Energy is fundamental to economic growth and quality of life. Energy lights our buildings, powers our industry, and drives our transport. Each American uses 10-20 times as much energy per person as the average citizen in a developing country. The disparity is even greater for people living in rural areas of the poorest countries who have virtually no access to electricity or modern fuels. We must make energy available to all the world's citizens.
But, increased use of energy poses serious challenges. The global climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels that emit 7 billion tons, each year, of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" straight into the atmosphere The warmer planet these students and their children could inherit is one with more droughts and floods, disrupted agriculture, and spreading disease and pests.
Clean energy technologies are essential to address both the energy and environmental challenges of tomorrow.. Clean energy reduces air pollution and greenhouse gases. We have long awaited the promise of technologies such as photovoltaics and wind energy. These students have turned such idealistic visions of the future into powerful realities today. You have demonstrated that these clean technologies are available now to improve our lives as well as the lives of those two billion people that don’t have access to electricity today. These technologies will enable the developing countries to leapfrog past the polluting technologies used by the industrial countries during their growth.
This Administration has worked hard to support development and deployment of clean energy both domestically and internationally We proposed $640million in new money for these technologies this year---$100 million of that for the international development and deployment of clean energy technologies. Congress has funded virtually none of this to date. We call upon Congress to reconsider this important request: it will help our economy at home and assist economic development abroad, protect the environment, and support global stability and democratization.
President Clinton has said many times: “One of the big ideas the world has to abandon is that the only way to build a modern prosperous economy is with the industrial energy patterns of a former era. It is not true." You students have just proved this. You have changed people's lives, you are changing the future, and I'll bet you too have been changed forever, by this experience! You and your sponsors are at the cutting edge of redefining economic development and demonstrating that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand.
The White House Millennium Council was
created by the President and the First Lady to give every American an opportunity
to mark the millennium in a meaningful and lasting way that "Honors the
Past and Imagines the Future." The Millennium Council is proud to sponsor
these students who are making a lasting gift to the future.
The Council thanks you, the White House Science office thanks you,
and your children and your grandchildren will thank you too. We celebrate
your gift to the future today.
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