Washington (AFP) April 16, 2008
President George W. Bush Wednesday called for US greenhouse gas emissions to be curtailed from 2025, but was roundly accused of doing too little, too late against climate change.
Despite having abandoned the Kyoto treaty on global warming, Bush said the world's biggest polluting nation had shown it was serious about reducing growth in planet-heating gases such as carbon dioxide.
"Today, I am announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025," he said in a speech, without giving specific targets by which to reduce the emissions.
Bush said to reach the 2025 goal, "we will need to more rapidly slow the growth of power-sector greenhouse gas emissions so that they peak within 10 to 15 years, and decline thereafter."
But he did not detail new legal mandates on industry to bring down emissions, and warned Congress against passing new legislation that might "impose tremendous costs on our economy and American families."
Bush instead extolled the promise of new technology to clean up gas emissions, older technology like nuclear power and "clean coal," and a previously announced target to make US vehicles more fuel efficient.
The president's address, delivered in brilliant spring sunshine in the White House Rose Garden, came on the eve of a meeting of the world's major polluters in France Thursday and Friday.
Ministers from 16 economies that together account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are gathering in Paris for the "Major Economies Meeting," the third in a series launched last September by Bush.
Kyoto's binding commitments, which Bush has rejected, expire in 2012. The president came belatedly to the climate change cause, and now stands accused of trying to ram through a diluted new regime that will focus on voluntary action rather than mandatory cuts.
Elizabeth Bast, director of international programs with Friends of the Earth, said Bush's 2025 goal was "clearly not enough to deal with the problem."
"It's definitely too little and way too late, after eight years of doing nothing," she told AFP.
"It's an effort to sidetrack what's going on in the international negotiations, and the rest of the world shouldn't be influenced by this given that the US administration is going to change soon."
The Sierra Club, the largest US environmental group, said Bush's plan to halt emissions growth was "woefully deficient."
"Scientists tell us that we need to cut total emissions at least 15-20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050, in order to prevent the most catastrophic effects of global warming," executive director Carl Pope said.
But Bush, having rejected Kyoto for its failure to apply binding gas targets on fast-growing China and India, said the United States would not take unilateral action that imperils US industry and jobs.
The United States supports a post-Kyoto regime that encompasses every major economy "and gives none a free ride," the president said, looking forward to climate change talks at a Group of Eight summit in Japan in July.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said Bush had flunked the climate change challenge in his final year in office.
Pelosi said Bush should back efforts in Congress to "cap and trade" greenhouse gas emissions, along with individual efforts of states like California that his administration has fought in the courts.
"As we are honored by the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the president should heed his warnings about our moral responsibility to act, calling for a 'strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible'," she said.
James Connaughton, chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, said Bush was focused on realistic goals rather than "fancy rhetoric."
"I challenge any critic ... to show us a path that gets us further and faster than the president has proposed in a way that doesn't harm our economy," he told reporters.
Greenhouse gases blamed for global warming increased overall 14.7 percent in the United States between 1990-2006, while the economy in the same period grew 59 percent, the EPA said Tuesday in its annual report.
The 2005-2006 drop in emissions "was due primarily to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption," it said.
A warmer than usual winter also led to lower heating fuel consumption, and a cool summer reduced demand for electricity in air conditioners.
Rising gasoline prices also kept more cars off the road, and increased use of natural gas and renewable energies such as solar and wind power further reduced electricity consumption and coal burning by power plants, EPA said.
The agency released its findings as President George W. Bush on Wednesday called for capping the growth in US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Despite having abandoned the Kyoto treaty on climate change, Bush said the United States had shown it was serious about reducing growth in planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide.
He did not propose new legal mandates on industry to bring down emissions, and warned Congress against passing new legislation that might "impose tremendous costs on our economy and American families."
According to the EPA, total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride -- in 2006 were equivalent to 7,054.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
The EPA report, "Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006," is submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.
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Washington (AFP) April 14, 2008
US President George W. Bush is opposed to legislation being discussed in Congress to cap greenhouse gas emissions because the proposals would hurt the economy, his spokeswoman said Monday.
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