Friday, September 28, 2007

President Bush Outlines New Approach On Climate Change

Sep 28: President George Bush addressed the first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change [See WIMS 9/27/07] of 17 countries plus the United Nations which he called for last May in advance of the G-8 meeting on June 6-8, in Heiligendamm, Germany. The meeting is part of the new initiative President Bush announced at the G-8 meeting to further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and promoting strong economic growth.

President Bush said, "I'm honored to address this historic meeting on energy security and climate change. And I appreciate you all being here. Energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously. The world's response will help shape the future of the global economy and the condition of our environment for future generations. The nations in this room have special responsibilities. We represent the world's major economies, we are major users of energy, and we have the resources and knowledge base to develop clean energy technologies.

"Our guiding principle is clear: We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people. We know this can be done. Last year America grew our economy while also reducing greenhouse gases. Several other nations have made similar strides.

"This progress points us in the right direction, but we've got to do more. So before this year's G8 summit, I announced that the United States will work with other nations to establish a new international approach to energy security and climate change. Today's meeting is an important step in this process. With the work we begin today, we can agree on a new approach that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen energy security, encourage economic growth and sustainable development, and advance negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change...

"For many years those who worried about climate change and those who worried about energy security were on opposite ends of the debate. It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better. These challenges share a common solution: technology. By developing new low-emission technologies, we can meet the growing demand for energy and at the same time reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, our nations have an opportunity to leave the debates of the past behind, and reach a consensus on the way forward. And that's our purpose today.

"No one country has all the answers, including mine. The best way to tackle this problem is to think creatively and to learn from other's experiences and to come together on a way to achieve the objectives we share. Together, our nations will pave the way for a new international approach on greenhouse gas emissions.

"This new approach must involve all the world's largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, including developed and developing nations. We will set a long-term goal for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem. And by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it.

"By next summer, we will convene a meeting of heads of state to finalize the goal and other elements of this approach, including a strong and transparent system for measuring our progress toward meeting the goal we set. This will require concerted effort by all our nations. Only by doing the necessary work this year will it be possible to reach a global consensus at the U.N. in 2009.

"Each nation will design its own separate strategies for making progress toward achieving this long-term goal. These strategies will reflect each country's different energy resources, different stages of development, and different economic needs. "There are many policy tools that nations can use, including a variety of market mechanisms, to create incentives for companies and consumers to invest in new low-emission energy sources. We will also form working groups with leaders of different sectors of our economies, which will discuss ways of sharing technology and best practices.

"Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technologies to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective. While our strategies may be differentiated, we share a common responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping our economies growing...

"We also need to take advantage of clean safe nuclear power. Nuclear power is the one existing source of energy that can generate massive amounts of electricity without causing any air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Without the world's 439 nuclear power plants, there would be nearly 2 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year. And by expanding the use of nuclear power, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions even more...

"As we work to transform the way we produce energy, we must also address another major factor in climate change, which is deforestation. The world's forests help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by storing carbon dioxide. But when our forests disappear, the concentration of greenhouse gas levels rise in the atmosphere. Scientists estimate that nearly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to deforestation...

"What I'm telling you is, is that we've got a strategy; we've got a comprehensive approach. And we look forward to working with our Congress to make sure that comprehensive approach is effective. And we look forward to working with you as a part of this global effort to do our duty..."

In addition to the President's address, other Administration officials also delivered addresses at the meeting including: the White House Office of Press Secretary; James Connaughton, Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality; Treasury Secretary Paulson, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Democrats Respond To President's Climate Change Approach

Sep 28: Two top Democrats were quick to react to President Bush's address to his first Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change. No immediate reaction was available from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Both Pelosi and Reid had 30 House members had called on the President to use the meeting to announce a U.S. position in support of "mandatory national and international limits" on the pollution that causes global warming and to achieve "real reductions in emissions."

Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said that President Bush and his administration have "a history of rhetoric, but no action, on global warming." The Select Committee released a report entitled, Bush Global Warming Rhetoric v. Reality Timeline.

Markey, after "personally listening to the President’s speech on global warming this morning at the State Department," "expressed disappointment that a week of administration attention to global warming had produced little more than recycled rhetoric." Markey said the President had gathered the top 17 global warming emitters -- including the United States -- this week to discuss global warming solutions, but "he chose to skip the climate summit at the United Nations on Monday. The UN is considered the major organizing body for international climate action."

In a harsh statement, Markey said, "For these countries meeting with the President, this must have felt like attending a prayer session led by an atheist. The President is opposing mandatory caps on greenhouse gases, opposing a mandatory 10 mpg increase in cars and trucks, opposing a national renewable electricity standard, opposing state efforts to cut emissions from cars, and pushing for new sources of dangerous pollution from liquid coal. His efforts to protect the oil industry from Democratic efforts to close unneeded tax loopholes is impeding the transition to a renewable future. Does he support the Energy bill pending in Congress? No. Has he declared CO2 a dangerous threat to the public and the planet? No."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented on the meeting saying, “I asked the President to call this summit with the hope that he would announce a new commitment to American leadership on the challenge of global warming. The rhetoric of the President’s speech today is an improvement, but unless it is followed up with mandatory cuts in global warming pollution, it will amount to little more than empty words. The President claims he is committed to action on global warming, but he has failed employ the two most effective tools we have -- mandatory cuts in carbon pollution and a cap-and-trade system. As Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass global warming legislation that will include both mandatory controls on carbon pollution and a cap-and-trade system. I call on President Bush to work with us as we take the steps necessary to protect the planet.”

Access the Department of State website for all major addresses, information and reference documents from the meeting (click here). Access a White House fact sheet on the New Approach (click here). Access a video of the President's address (click here). Access the statement from Representative Markey (click here). Access a floor statement by Markey on September 27 (click here). Access the 5-page report from Representative Markey (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]