Bush counters EU plan for cutting greenhouse gases

AEN News

Washington - President George Bush countered European Union plans for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions, proposing a new round of talks heading into the G-8 Summit during next week's meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations in Heiligendamm, Germany.

President Bush outlined his proposal ahead of next week's meeting in a speech Thursday, saying he would invite the 15 largest global producers of greenhouse gas emissions to sit down and set an agenda for curbing greenhouse gas emissions that everyone could agree with, goals that were obtainable.

But earlier today, Bush also said that technology held the key to finding ways of producing less polluting forms of energy and to do that Bush suggested countries eliminate tarrifs and other barriers to clean energy technologies and services by the end of year.

"If you are truly committed to helping the environment, nations need to get rid of their tariffs, need to get rid of those barriers that prevent new technologies from coming into their countries," said Bush.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) critized Bush's greenhouse gas cutting approach in meeting up with the eight major industrial nations at the G-8 Summit next week calling his proposal "a public-relations stunt to defuse criticism going into the G-8 discussions in Germany."

Germany holds the presidency of the G-8 member nations and has proposed a 'two degree" measure in controlling greenhouse gases by cutting emissions when the Earth's temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) before being brought back down. But environmental experts say that would mean a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Bush administration has rejected Germany's greenhouse gas proposal which Sen. Reid says the President is just stalling and has been for six years. "The Bush Administration's 'head in the sand' position on global warming has defied reason and common sense. For six long years, it has suppressed scientists and scientific evidence, undermined international efforts to find solutions and delayed implementation of a strategy to protect the long-term interests of the nation," said Reid.

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters at a White House press briefing this afternoon that we need to find ways to access more energy in an environmentally responsible way. "Part of that issue is the challenge of global climate change. Our understanding of the science has strengthened, and our understanding of the technology opportunities for solving the problem has also carried us forward with meaningful solutions," said Connaughton.

Connaughton outlined President Bush's three-part proposal he is presenting at the G-8 Summit next week: First, the United States is going to commit to help lead the way on the development of a new framework on climate change for the time after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The second part of the agenda is a broad agenda that involves all of the participants in the U.N. Framework on Climate Change - 189 countries. The third component will then be an accelerated program on technology and advancement.

Connaughton said that the commitments under President Bush's environmental proposal are not mandatory, but that each country will set its own limits of what it believes are acheivable levels control, not one's in which globally all nations would be regulated under.

Germany's Chancellor has made it clear that she wants to use next week's G-8 Summit to forge a consensus on climate control. When Connaughton was asked by reporters if Bush was undercutting Merkel's effort by putting the issue off, he replied by saying, "We've had some disagreement over a few issues, but this will actually bring closure on the core of what we can agree on, and that's what Chancellor Merkel is trying to achieve, a situation where the G8 has a sense of how they want to develop a framework, but we are doing it in a way that will also be attractive to large emerging economies, like China and India and Brazil," said Connaughton. "That's our real challenge."