Bush welcomed to climate debate; world mulls ‘serious’ comments
ItwasoverlookedbyBeltwaypundits and ignored in the Democratic rebuttal, but President Bush’s brief StateoftheUnioncommentson“the serious challenge of global climate change” sparked sharp interest, comment and criticism around the globe.
BritishPrimeMinisterTonyBlair, UnitedNationsglobal-warmingchief Yvo de Boer and senior business leadersattheposhannualgathering in Davos, Switzerland, all seized on Mr. Bush’s Jan. 23 remarks on energy, oil and the environment as a signthattheUnitedStateshasanew appreciation for the problem.
“Idobelievethatthiswholedebate is now moving in a completely different and more positive direction,” Mr. Blair told the House of CommonsonJan.24.Mr.Blairhaspushed a reluctant Washington to move the issues of climate change, global warmingandgreenhousegasestothe center of its foreign-policy agenda.
Mr.deBoer,speakingtoreporters on a trip to Tokyo, called the energyconservation measures outlined by Mr. Bush in his address “very encouraging,” saying it was significant that the president linked his policies for the first time to the climatechange issue.
Mr. Bush “has put the actions he intends to take in the context of confronting the serious — and he used theword‘serious’—globalchallenge ofclimatechanges,”Mr.deBoersaid.
Advance word on Jan. 23 of the president’s plan to double the size of the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve — to be tapped in times of crisis — sparked the sharpest one-day increase in world oil prices since mid2005, up nearly 5 percent to $55.
There is virtually no expectation the U.S. government will reverse course and embrace the binding caps on greenhouse-gas emissions containedintheKyotoProtocol.One of Mr. Bush’s first actions as president in 2001 was to pull out of the Kyotopact,citingitsharmfulimpact on the economy and the lack of caps for developing countries such as China.
But on the day when former Vice President Al Gore, Mr. Bush’s opponent in the 2000 presidential race, picked up two Oscar nominations forhisdocumentaryonglobalwarming,Mr.Bushannouncedstepstocut U.S.energyuse,slowtheproduction ofgreenhousegasesandreduceU.S. dependence of foreign oil suppliers.
JamesCameronischiefexecutive of London-based Climate Change Capital, an investment bank that invests in environmental projects and technologies.HetoldtheWorldEconomic Forum in Davos that Mr. Bush’s remarks could be a major turningpointinthedebateonglobal warming.
“If the U.S. is moving in that direction, it’s a tremendous realign- ment with the rest of the world and should make it easier to get international agreement on climate change following the end of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Mr. de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention onClimateChange,alsosaidthatU.S. participation is critical if a new global-warming pact is to succeed.
“I think it makes no sense whatsoevertryingtoaddressthequestion of climate change without the active participation from the United States,” he said. “The United States accounts for about 25 percent of global emissions.”
This article is based in part on wire service reports.