Bush wants progress in clean tech­nol­ogy

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Career One -

PRES­I­DENT Ge­orge W. Bush has urged the world’s big­gest pol­luters to de­velop clean tech­nolo­gies to re­duce green­house-gas emis­sions while vow­ing that the US ‘‘ will do our part’’.

At a cli­mate change meet­ing of 17 coun­tries in Wash­ing­ton, Bush last week called for an in­ter­na­tional fund to help de­vel­op­ing na­tions fi­nance clean-en­ergy projects, and said Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Henry Paul­son would lead the ef­fort.

The pres­i­dent didn’t en­dorse glob­ally ne­go­ti­ated, manda­tory car­bon diox­ide lim­its that many world lead­ers, law-mak­ers and sci­en­tists say are needed to avoid the most dam­ag­ing ef­fects of global warm­ing. Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials gave Bush’s ad­dress a luke­warm re­sponse and stressed that legally bind­ing car­bon cuts are needed in the fight against cli­mate change.

‘‘ We can’t al­low our­selves to lose any more time,’’ Mogens Peter Carl, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral for the en­vi­ron­ment, said at a news con­fer­ence later.

The ma­jor­ity of the coun­tries rep­re­sented at the meet­ing held by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing na­tions such as China, favoured manda­tory car­bon re­duc­tions for all in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries, Carl said.

Bush side-stepped the cap is­sue and touted his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­vest­ments in cleanen­ergy re­search and his push for Congress to ap­prove a 20 per cent cut in petrol us­age.

‘‘ What I’m telling you is, we’ve got a strat­egy,’’ Bush told the gath­er­ing of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from coun­tries in­clud­ing In­dia, Ger­many and Brazil. ‘‘ We’ve got a com­pre­hen­sive approach.’’

Bush’s speech capped a week of high-profile cli­mate change events, in­clud­ing a one-day sum­mit at the UN in New York on Septem­ber 24. Bush’s com­ments marked his most com­pre­hen­sive to date about earth’s ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and sea lev­els.

‘‘ Our un­der­stand­ing of cli­mate change has come a long way,’’ said Bush, who has pre­vi­ously ques­tioned the science be­hind cli­mate change.

He fo­cused on link­ing the prob­lems of cli­mate change and en­ergy in­de­pen­dence. ‘‘ For many years, those who wor­ried about cli­mate change and those who wor­ried about en­ergy se­cu­rity were on op­po­site ends of the de­bate,’’ Bush said. ‘‘ To­day we know bet­ter. Th­ese chal­lenges share a com­mon so­lu­tion: tech­nol­ogy.’’

He touted the use of clean-coal tech­nol­ogy, wind and so­lar power and greater use of nu­clear power plants, cel­lu­losic ethanol, plugin hy­brid and hy­dro­gen-pow­ered au­to­mo­biles.

Each na­tion ‘‘ must de­cide for it­self the right mix of tools and tech­nolo­gies’’ to com­bat global warm­ing, he said.

While Bush pushed coun­tries and the private sec­tor to find mar­ket-based so­lu­tions to cli­mate change, Democrats this week re­newed crit­i­cism of his op­po­si­tion to a global car­bon emis­sions trad­ing sys­tem.

‘‘ The only en­vi­ron­men­tal ideal the pres­i­dent seems com­mit­ted to is re­cy­cling rhetoric,’’ said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Markey of Mas­sachusetts, chair­man of the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on En­ergy In­de­pen­dence and Global Warm­ing, who at­tended Bush’s speech. ‘‘ Af­ter a week of at­ten­tion to the is­sue of global warm­ing, the pres­i­dent is no closer to sup­port­ing manda­tory tar­gets for re­duc­ing heat-trap­ping pol­lu­tion.’’

Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Bar­bara Boxer of Cal­i­for­nia said, ‘‘ The rest of the world is just stunned at the lack of sup­port from this ad­min­is­tra­tion for a cap-and-trade sys­tem, which is, as you know, a free-mar­ket sys­tem.’’

Such a sys­tem, which helped curb acid rain in the US, is ‘‘ a way to put a price on car­bon that re­ally works’’, Boxer, the head of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, said in an in­ter­view in Wash­ing­ton.

Cit­i­group and Lehman Brothers Hold­ings are among in­vest­ment banks in Wash­ing­ton this week to pro­mote emis­sions trad­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to car­bon diox­ide taxes. At least five pro­pos­als to cut green­house gases blamed for cli­mate change are in Congress.

Global emis­sions trad­ing could reach about $US100 bil­lion ($A89 bil­lion) by 2020, New York-based Lehman said in a re­port late last month. That as­sumes the US, China and Ja­pan adopt trad­ing plans that cover 50 per cent of their to­tal emis­sions. The mar­ket was worth $30 bil­lion last year, World Bank fig­ures show.

Bush called for the meet­ing ear­lier this year while un­der pres­sure from other coun­tries, busi­nesses and even fel­low Repub­li­cans to sup­port a re­quired cap on global warm­ing pol­lu­tion and take a more ac­tive role in com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to craft a new world­wide cli­mate treaty.

The US is con­sid­ered key to the process be­cause it’s the world’s largest emit­ter of green­house gases. The cur­rent Ky­oto ac­cord, which re­quires de­vel­oped coun­tries to re­duce their green­house-gas emis­sions, ex­pires in 2012. The US and Aus­tralia are the only in­dus­tri­alised coun­tries that haven’t signed onto the ac­cord. De­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as China are ex­empt from the car­bon cuts re­quired un­der Ky­oto.

Talks to re­place Ky­oto will be over­seen by the UN and be­gin in De­cem­ber in Bali, In­done­sia. Bush has pro­posed a se­ries of meet­ings with the world’s ma­jor emit­ters to co­in­cide with those ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Bush says the coun­tries, which col­lec­tively ac­count for more than 80 per cent of the world’s global warm­ing pol­lu­tion, need to set a long-term goal to curb emis­sions and that he will call a meet­ing of heads of state within a year to ‘‘ fi­nalise the goal.’’

‘‘ By set­ting this goal we ac­knowl­edge there is a prob­lem, and by set­ting this goal we com­mit our­selves to do­ing some­thing about it,’’ Bush said. ‘‘ We must lead the world to pro­duce fewer green­house gas emis­sions’’ in a way that doesn’t harm eco­nomic ex­pan­sion.

Crit­ics of Bush’s cli­mate poli­cies say the ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to de­lay tak­ing ac­tion un­til he leaves of­fice in Jan­uary 2009. ‘‘ Deny, de­lay, dis­sem­ble, that’s the evo­lu­tion of the Bush cli­mate pol­icy,’’ said Philip Clapp, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust, a Wash­ing­ton-based non­profit group. Bloomberg

Cli­mate change pol­icy: Each coun­try must work out the best so­lu­tion for it­self, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush says

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