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Bush Becoming Convinced

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 4 months ago

Bush plays to the crowd on global warming . . .

Published: June 1, 2007


President George W. Bush has been feeling the heat on global warming. He's been feeling it from the U.S. Congress, from state governors, from the business community and, most recently and powerfully, from America's closest foreign allies, who are all fed up with his passivity on the issue and desperate for him to show some real leadership.


So on Thursday, Bush stepped before the microphones in Washington to announce that he would help convene a series of meetings beginning this fall of the worlds' 15 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (the United States is No. 1) to develop a long-term "global strategy" for dealing with climate change. He offered no details beyond the general hope that the nations involved would voluntarily establish "midterm national targets" and would increase their investments in new and cleaner technologies.


Given Bush's history of denial and obstructionism when it comes to climate change, there are good reasons to be cynical about this sudden enthusiasm, coming as it does on the eve of the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations.


Most of these nations - and in particular the meeting's host, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany - were deeply offended by the administration's rude rejection of Merkel's proposal for deep, mandatory cuts in emissions by mid-century. Cuts of up to 80 percent by 2050 have been recommended by many of the world's top scientists as necessary to avert the worst consequences of climate change.


Bush gave no indication that he is any more sympathetic to Merkel's ideas than he was a week ago. Indeed, his spokesmen made clear that he remains as hostile as ever to most of the mechanisms associated with the 1997 Kyoto accord, which included a firm if modest cap on emissions. Many European leaders are still bristling over Condoleezza Rice's 2001 declaration that the treaty was "dead on arrival."


As rhetoric, some of what Bush had to say was different and heartening. He acknowledged the need for real reductions in greenhouse gases, as opposed to his earlier strategy of allowing increases in emissions as long as they did not exceed the rate of economic growth.


He said he found the scientific evidence of a link between climate change and human activity to be increasingly persuasive. He agreed that big developing nations like China and India absolutely had to be part of the solution.


Yet he remains convinced that technology holds most of the answers and that the regulatory restraints that many experts regard as a necessary condition of technological progress are largely unnecessary.


He says further that his goal is to produce a common strategy in 18 months. This would coincide, roughly speaking, with his departure from public life, suggesting his real goal is to leave the heavy lifting to his successor.

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