Bush shifts, follow me?

Nice idea, but meaningless


Climate Change: Filling the Bush Gap 

By: Bryan Walsh


September 29, 2007


Climate change geeks with a thing for international conferences —
like me — were spoilt for choice this past week. You could rub shoulders
with national leaders from over 80 countries — or just their junior
advisers, depending on the color of your badge — at the United Nations
high-level meeting on climate. You could Amtrak down to the White House
and hear President George W. Bush tell the world's major economies that
this global warming thing might actually be a problem and that we
should maybe consider doing something about it eventually. Or you could
catch the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in Manhattan,
where billionaire executives, extremely smart people and star-struck
journalists listened raptly as Brad Pitt detailed his plans to rebuild
New Orleans in fabulously green fashion.


Of the three, it was the Clinton meeting that proved the best bet
— and not just because of the Tastes of the World cocktail reception
at the Sheraton on Thursday evening. As part of his Clinton Climate
Initiative, launched in August 2006, the former President has brought
together business and philanthropy to generate locally focused efforts
to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.


While President Bush offered mostly empty rhetoric,
on Friday afternoon Clinton reeled off pledge after concrete pledge
for his climate initiative: $150 million to harness geothermal energy in
Africa, $5 million for the Alliance for Climate Protection in the U.S.,
$210 million for carbon offsetting in the developing world. While UN
action on climate change remains stalled by the deadlock between the
developed and the developing world, Clinton has proved remarkably
successful in fostering real engagement and investment on global
warming across national lines.Clinton just really gets it," says
Ted Nordhaus, co-author of the new environmental politics book
Break Through.


The success of the Clinton Initiative is emblematic
of how people who care about climate change in America have
chosen to approach the problem in the near total absence of action
from Washington. Lobbying has shifted to the corporate world, where large
companies likeWal-Mart have implemented energy efficiency polices far
more aggressivethan anything coming from the government. High-profile
celebrities likePitt and Leonardo DiCaprio have made green cool for consumers.
And hardly a day goes by without news of a leap forward on solar, wind or
hybrid cars, thanks to private investment — again, in the absence of
significant government spending.


So what is Washington doing? While it's heartening that
President Bush now does seem to believe that global warming is real,
this week's meeting of the world's major carbon emitters offered
no evidence that he is willing to meet the climate challenge.
The President continued to reject Kyoto-style mandatory caps on
carbon emissions and instead endorsed an "international clean
technology fund" to finance alternative energy projects in
developing nations. Nice idea, but meaningless...
without real spending to back it up. "Bush says we need technology,
but spends no money," says Nordhaus. "Bush says we need to
reduceemissions, but only voluntarily. Both positions are utterly cynical."


That much was clear to many of the European attendees in
Washington, who viewed the summit at best
as harmless, and at worst as an attempt to undermine the upcoming UN climate
negotiations in Bali
at the end of the year. But the good news is that if Bush is unlikely
to move on global warming between now and the end of the term, there is
another branch of the government that just might.


Currently there are several pieces of climate change legislation
floating around Congress, and with the Democrats in power, there's a chance
that one might pass.


"You're actually starting to see Congress talk seriously about commitment
to climate change," says Annie Petsonk, international counsel at
Environmental Defense. "Foreign countries are starting to recognize
that." So it turns out that the hot place to be this week wasn't the
UN, or the White House or even Clinton's party in Manhattan. It was Capitol Hill.








Little more than empty words … Too little, too late …



Bush Seeks New Image on Global Warming

By: John Heilprin

Associated Press/Washington Post

September 29, 2007


-- President Bush's call on Friday for a new fund to reduce global
warming fell flat with Europeans and environmentalists who say
U.N.-mandated cuts in greenhouse gases are what's needed.


To show he meant business, Bush designated his treasury secretary to talk
to other nations about getting worldwide contributions to the fund. The
money would pay for clean-energy projects in poor countries.


"This here was a great step for the Americans and a small step for mankind,"
Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said after Bush's
speech at the State Department before representatives of the nations
that are the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. "In
substance, we are still far apart."


In his speech, Bush acknowledged that climate change
is real and that human activity is a factor.


"By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem, and by setting
this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it," he said.
"We share a common responsibility: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
while keeping our economies growing."


The president's speech capped two days of talks at a
White House-sponsored climate conference that brought together the U.S.
and developing nations such as China, India and Brazil
that are not required to make cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N.
treaty for reducing greenhouse gases that expires in 2012.


Most of the talk behind closed doors focused on Japan's proposal that
nations agree to cut global emissions by half of their current levels
by 2050, said Bush's top environmental adviser, James Connaughton. A
Japanese statement to other conference members called that proposal "a
vision and not a legally binding target."


The conference included representatives of other major
industrial nations such as Russia,
Britain, France
and Germany that
have signed onto the Kyoto treaty that
Bush rejected because he said it would harm the U.S.
economy and did not require immediate cuts of countries like
China and
. The treaty aimed to put the
biggest burden on the richest nations that contributed the most carbon


Other participants came from
, Canada, Indonesia,
, Mexico,
South Africa and South Korea, plus the European Union and the United Nations.
another of the biggest emitters, notably was excluded.


"There was lots of talk about mandatory caps," said Yvo de Boer, the top U.N.
climate official. "I don't think it would have been realistic to expect
at this first meeting to expect any country to change its position."


He said he found Bush's speech "encouraging because
it indicates that the U.S.
wants to develop this discussion among the major economies, get into
the substance, including on the question of goals and the type of
regime that's appropriate, and then feed that into the larger U.N.


Bush said his purpose was to begin setting a new worldwide goal for cutting
carbon dioxide emissions after 2012 and to help developing nations pay
for the changes that would be needed. The president said the reduction
goal should be finished by next summer, along with ways to measure
progress toward it.


said each nation should establish for itself what methods it will use
to rein in the pollution problem without stunting economic growth.


But he refuses to sign onto mandatory emission-reduction obligations,
preferring to encourage the development of new technologies and other
voluntary measures, and won't participate in any talks toward a global
agreement that do not include energy guzzlers from the developing world.


Bush made clear, however, that he saw his talks as
complementary to the U.N. negotiations over what will succeed the Kyoto
treaty after 2012. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a summit
Monday to grease the wheels for an agreement in December in Bali,
Bush has seemed more sensitive lately to perceptions in other parts of
the world that the U.S.
government either does not take the phenomenon of global warming
seriously _ or seriously enough.


It may be too little, too late.


John Ashton, a special representative on climate change for the British
foreign secretary, said: "One of the striking features of this meeting
is how isolated this administration has become. There is absolutely no
support that I can see in the international community that we can drive
this effort on the basis of voluntary efforts."


C. Boyden Gray, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., strongly disagreed.


"The British might be isolating themselves,"
he said. "It's been a little uphill because of skepticism in Europe.
On the one hand they say you are undermining Bali,
and on the other hand they say you are not doing anything at all."


The ball is now in Congress' court, said Fred Krupp, president of
Environmental Defense, who was one of the few outsiders to address the
panel of mostly midlevel government ministers.


"Congress needs to lead. The president is not giving us the
leadership we need. Ultimately what we need are mandatory caps,"
Krupp said. " No air pollution problem in the world has ever been solved
without having legal limits."


Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and Jeff Bingaman of
New Mexico, who both chair committees in the Senate, said they would provide
that leadership and work toward legislation with mandatory carbon controls
and a cap-and-trade system.


Boxer called Bush's speech an improvement on what he has said about climate
change in the past "but unless it is followed up with mandatory
cuts in global warming pollution, it will amount to little more than empty


At the same time, the fact that the
United States
was taking a role in the
process, and a leading one, was heartening to some.


Until recently, said Emil Salim, an economist and member of the
Indonesian president's council of advisers, Bush offered "no dialogue on the
Kyoto Protocol whatsoever. This time, the members of the Kyoto Protocol are
invited to discuss. So from that point of view, there is some
improvement," he said in an interview. "But on the other hand,
I thinkit has more to do with the domestic politics, because you have





Achieved nothing …



Bush Shifts Approach on Climate 

The president urges the reduction of greenhouse gases
to slow global warming, but calls for nations to meet goals voluntarily.

By: James Gerstenzang

Los Angeles Times

September 29, 2007


-- President Bush, who took office skeptical about global warming, said
Friday that the nations emitting the most greenhouse gases -- a group
that includes the
United States
-- must reduce their pollution levels.


But he also insisted on voluntary goals for such efforts, which he said could
be met largely through new technology that would create "an age of
clean energy."


He set a two-year deadline for nations in a U.S.-led conference to reach a
consensus on how to cut emissions, a schedule that punts the decision
to his successor.


addition, he proposed creating an international fund, with
contributions from governments, to help make clean-energy technology
more available.


Critics chastised Bush for not seeking immediate and specific steps
to increase energy efficiency, expand use of renewable fuels and move toward
mandatory emissions restrictions similar to those set to expire in 2012
under the Kyoto Protocol -- an international pact the
United States
never joined.


The president's speech represented a concerted effort by his administration
to seize control of the debate over global warming. At the same time,
he sought to fend off calls for dramatic action that would mandate
specific reductions in heat-trapping gases such as those given off when
fossil fuels are burned.


Bush spoke on the second and final day of a 17-nation conference at the
State Department that brought together officials from the world's major
economies and energy consumers.


Under pressure to demonstrate action on global warming last spring, the White
House announced plans for the conference shortly before the Group of
Eight nations -- Canada,
Great Britain
, Japan, Russia and the
-- met in their annual summit in
June. One of the top agenda items at that meeting was climate change.


James Connaughton, who as chairman of the White House Council on
Environmental Quality oversaw this week's meeting, said it met his goal
of putting "issues on the table."


But Mogens Peter
Carl, the European Union's director general for the environment, told
reporters after the sessions that there needed to be talk about
specific targets for emissions reductions, rather than broad goals.


Humberto Rosa, Portugal's
deputy environmental minister, applauded the Bush administration for
signaling its readiness to engage on global warming. But he, too,
emphasized the need for concrete, binding caps on emissions.


The global warming debate has proved troublesome for Bush and Vice
President Dick Cheney, both of whom spent several years in the oil
business. Bush rarely speaks of it at such length.


Reflecting a shift from his initial skepticism, the president acknowledged the
widely reported and respected conclusion of the U.N. Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change that, in his words, "global temperatures are
rising and that this is caused largely by human activities."


He began his remarks by saying that "energy security and climate change
are two of the greatest challenges of our time," and that "the
United States
takes these challenges seriously."


By setting a goal for reduced emissions, Bush said, "we acknowledge there
is a problem. And by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing
something about it."


With the demand for energy forecast by many experts to rise more than 50% by
2030, Bush challenged the conference participants to find a way to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting needs for economic growth.


Bush called for "a new international approach on greenhouse gas emissions"
-- one that would commit the world's largest producers of the gases to
set goals for reducing them, and to do so by next summer at a meeting
of heads of state. The program would include a system to measure
progress toward the goals, and would be followed by a "global
consensus" at the United Nations by 2009 on emissions reductions.


"Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technologies
to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective,"
the president said.


Nowhere in the 20-minute speech did Bush suggest that the targets would be
specific limits, with penalties if they are not met. Nor did he use the
word "voluntary," which would have drawn attention to his opposition to
the sort of mandates favored by many environmentalists.


Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned
Scientists and a veteran observer of international global warming
negotiations, said the conference had "achieved nothing."


He also said: "As long as the White House continues to oppose mandatory
pollution limits, it is part of the problem, not the solution."


Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works, said that without mandating specific
reductions in pollution, Bush's speech amounted to "little more than
empty words."


Along with heavily industrialized nations, the conference's
participants included China,
-- rapidly developing countries whose
expansion has placed them among the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.





A total charade … a total failure



Europeans angry after Bush climate speech 'charade' 

US isolated as China
and India
refuse to back policy: President claims he can lead world on emissions

By: Ewen MacAskill in Washington

The Guardian

September 29 2007


George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated
yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without
any progress.


European ministers, diplomats and officials attending the Washington
conference were scathing, particularly in private, over Mr Bush's
failure once again to commit to binding action on climate change.


Although the US and Britain have been at odds over the environment since the
early days of the Bush administration, the gap has never been as wide
as yesterday.


and almost all other European countries, including
want mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse emissions. Mr Bush,
while talking yesterday about a "new approach" and "a historic
undertaking", remains totally opposed.


The conference, attended by more than 20 countries,
including China,
France and
Germany, broke up
with the US
isolated, according to non-Americans attending. One of those present
said even China
and India, two of
the biggest polluters, accepted that the voluntary approach proposed
by the US
was untenable and favoured binding measures,
even though they disagreed with the Europeans over how this would be


A senior European diplomat attending the conference, speaking on
condition of anonymity, said the meeting confirmed European suspicions
that it had been intended by Mr Bush as a spoiler for a major UN
conference on climate change in Bali
in December.


"It was a total charade and has been exposed as a charade,"
the diplomat said. "I have never heard a more humiliating speech by a major leader.
He [Mr Bush] was trying to present himself as a leader while showing no
sign of leadership. It was a total failure."


John Ashton, Britain's special envoy on climate change,
who attended the conference, said: "It is striking here how isolated the US
has become on this issue. There is no support among the industrialised
countries for the proposition that we should proceed on the basis of
voluntary commitments.


"The most inspiring example of leadership this week
was the speech on Monday at the UN by Arnold Schwarzenegger."


The governor of California is already putting into action
in the state policies to reduce carbon emissions.


Other European governments expressed similar sentiments.


Although many of those attending had predicted the conference would break up
without significant agreement, there had been hopes that Mr Bush, in
search of a legacy, might produce a surprise. Instead, he stuck to his
previous position, shunning mandatory caps in favour of clean coal,
nuclear power and developing clean energy technology.


In contrast with the early years of his presidency when he expressed
scepticism about climate change and whether humans were responsible, Mr
Bush acknowledged yesterday "energy security and climate change are two
of the great challenges of our time. The
United States
takes these
challenges seriously."


He added: "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."


Instead of mandatory caps, he emphasised a need to shift to clean coal, nuclear
energy and new clean technology. He also proposed a new international
technology fund but did not say how much the

would put into it. He reiterated a need for Americans to shift from oil
to ethanol for their cars. "We're working to develop next-generation
plug-in hybrids that will be able to travel nearly 40 miles without
using a drop of gasoline. And your automobile doesn't have to look like
a golf cart," he said.


Elizabeth Bast, of Friends of the Earth, described the conference as a diversion.
"We have heard it before. He put a huge emphasis on technology and does
not speak to binding targets, and there is a great emphasis on coal and
nuclear energy," she said.




Many US states, including California and Florida, 
have embarked on their own programmes, with California
leading the way. The governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has signed a law
requiring a 25% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, with penalties
for industries that do not comply. California's three biggest utilities
must produce at least 20% of their electricity using renewable sources by 2010.