Bush to address global warming in annual speech
By Caren Bohan
Tue Jan 16, 3:27 PM ET
President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday.
“It’s not accurate. It’s wrong,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said regarding media reports suggesting that Bush would agree to mandatory emissions caps in an effort to combat global warming. Such caps could require energy conservation and pollution curbs.
“If you’re talking about enforceable carbon caps, in terms of industry-wide and nation-wide, we knocked that down. That’s not something we’re talking about,” Snow said.
Britain’s “The Observer” newspaper reported on Sunday that senior Downing Street officials, who were not named, said Bush was preparing to issue a changed climate policy during his annual State of the Union speech on January 23.
U.S. allies such as Britain and Germany have pressed for a new global agreement on climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. Bush withdrew the United States from the protocol in 2001, saying its targets for reducing carbon emissions would unfairly hurt the U.S. economy.
“We’ll have a State of the Union address in a week and we’ll lay out our policy on global warming,” Snow said when asked whether British Prime Minister Tony Blair had persuaded Bush to agree to tougher action to combat global warming.
Bush has pushed a series of initiatives aimed at encouraging the development of alternative energy sources such as hydrogen and ethanol. That theme is expected to be emphasized in his speech.
Germany is hosting the Group of Eight summit later this year and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to make the fight against climate change a top issue on the agenda.
Meeting with Merkel at the White House earlier this month, Bush said he was committed to “promoting new technologies that will promote energy efficiency, and at the same time do a better job of protecting the world’s environment.”
The topic of climate change also came up on Tuesday when Bush met with new U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon. Ban raised the subject, according to a U.N. source.
“This is a global problem that calls for global leadership,” the source quoted U.N. secretary general as telling Bush. According to the source, Bush said that those who sign on to protocols like Kyoto need to live by them.
Bush administration stances on global warming and other environmental issues appear to have evolved over the last year, starting with the president’s 2006 State of the Union address, when he called U.S. addiction to foreign oil a serious problem that required more spending on new technologies.
After years of skepticism and calls for more research into the causes of global warming, Bush acknowledged last summer that humans exacerbate the problem.
His administration also is considering designating polar bears, whose icy habitat has been melting in recent years, as an endangered species. That could pressure the government to impose tougher measures to avoid global warming.
Snow suggested the president was sticking to his emphasis on voluntary steps to curb emissions.
“The president believes in doing everything in our power to use innovation and the power of innovation to achieve people’s goals of having cleaner energy and abundant energy,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Deborah Zabarenko)