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Bush Warms to Global Agreement


 

 

Apparently yielding to growing international pressure, including that from next week’s G8 summit in Germany , President Bush changed gears Thursday and unveiled a long-anticipated plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions while speaking at an international development conference.

Bush announced that his new plan would involve a separate summit of 15 countries this fall, which may include China, India, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Australia , and several major European economies. Although the President’s speech did not include specific details of how the plan would be implemented, the President proposed that these countries reach an agreement on greenhouse-gas targets by the end of 2008.

The U.S. never ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which established caps on carbon-dioxide emissions, and the U.S. withdrew from the possibility in 2001. The original Kyoto agreement expires in 2012. Just last week, the U.S. rejected Germany ’s proposal to introduce new long-term greenhouse-gas cuts that would go into effect beginning that year.

The new German targets, which target a maximum average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees, would require, by 2050, a worldwide 50-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels, according to the Associated Press.

The U.K. , under the leadership of Bush ally Tony Blair, has surprisingly also emerged as one of the nations most concerned with establishing policy to reduce greenhouse emissions. Britain recently proposed tough new regulations to target a radical 60-percent carbon dioxide reduction by 2050.

Bush rejects the idea of carbon-dioxide emission caps, and also the idea of an international carbon-trading market. The President has said that he had rejected Kyoto because compliance would put the U.S. economy at a disadvantage, and because emerging, booming economies like China and India are not involved in the agreement.

The President emphasized technology as a way of meeting the challenges of increased energy demands with respect to global climate change, and said that nations should set goals “that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs.”

Opponents were quick to tag the President’s plan as a way of diverting attention from the newly proposed targets, and were quick to point out that the President’s plan includes no framework for enforcement. Furthermore, each country would be left to set its own system for meeting the goals.

In the U.S. , vehicles account for about one third of U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions, and the Bush administration has proposed a four-percent hike in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements for cars in September 2009 and for light trucks in September 2011, which would reduce overall gasoline consumption (and thus vehicle carbon emissions) by about five percent annually by 2017.

Meanwhile, NASA administrator Michael Griffin, a Bush administration appointee, didn’t deny the validity of global warming but stoked new flames by saying on National Public Radio that it’s not necessarily in the power of human beings to assume that the climate of the planet doesn’t change, and to assume that the climate we currently have is the optimal one.

 

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions actually fell from 2005 to 2006, due to a combination of factors including weather and the increased use of nuclear power plants.

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