Bush wel­comed to cli­mate de­bate; world mulls ‘se­ri­ous’ com­ments

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By David R. Sands

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.

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