Tags: Bush | Offers | Kyoto | Alternative

Bush Offers Kyoto Alternative

Thursday, 14 February 2002 12:00 AM

Relying on tax incentives, the gradual, voluntary reduction of "greenhouse gases" is an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Senate has soundly rejected.

"I reaffirm America's commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention and its central goal to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate," the president told an audience at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Our immediate goal is to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions relative to the economy," Bush said. Some climatologists blame greenhouse gases for "global warming," though others dispute the theory.

The White House said the "global warming" plan would reduce greenhouse gases by 18 percent in the next 10 years, cutting the metric tons of emissions per million dollars of gross domestic product from 183 metric tons to 151 metric tons by the year 2012.

This is the first time that pollution control has been linked directly to the economy. Historically, the faster the economy grew, the greater the pollution.

The aim is to grow the economy without increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is a voluntary program, but the administration said that if in 2012, it had not met this goal, regulations might be considered.

"This is a common-sense way to measure progress," Bush said. "Our nation must have economic growth, growth to create opportunity, growth to create a higher quality of life for our citizens."

Last spring, Bush abandoned the Kyoto treaty, signed by the Clinton administration but never ratified by the Senate, which rejected it 95-0. Bush noted that its strict reduction regimen would cost the United States millions of jobs and that it exempted developing nations such as China even though they are major sources of pollution – and already have huge trade surpluses with the U.S.

Under the protocol, agreed to in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, 39 industrial nations must cut emissions in six greenhouse gases to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period 2008-12. The United States was to cut its emissions by 7 percent.

Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning in electricity generation and from agriculture and transportation are thought by some climatologists to have reached levels that prompt precautionary action.

At the time, Bush was deplored by many of the signers of the treaty and by some pro-Democrat environmental groups at home. But last December, Japan, where the protocol was signed and where the economy is in a 14-year slump, quietly pulled out of the reduction plan, and now other industrial countries are rethinking its economic impact.

Not one member of the European Union has ratified the treaty, though these nations often attack the U.S. on environmental matters.

Bush said he planned to present his plan in Asia next week during a three-country swing that takes him to Japan, Korea and China. A senior administration official said the Bush administration was not expecting to form a group of followers for its plan to rival Kyoto supporters, but noted that other nations might follow suit.

"It is positive that the U.S. administration is realizing that there needs to be something done about climate change," said European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, "but we feel the multinational approach is the best way to face up to this tremendous challenge."

"The Bush climate policy is supposedly a substitute for the Kyoto Protocol," the pro-Democrat Sierra Club charged Thursday, "but it would do little to cut pollution."

It said that under the Bush plan, emissions would grow up to 36 percent more than Kyoto levels by 2010 and 50 percent more than the target levels by 2020.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a contender for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2004, called the plan "all procrastination and no progress. It may well lead to more pollution, not less."

Kerry failed to explain why he did not vote for ratification of Kyoto.

Bush Thursday called for new Clean Skies legislation that sets new standards to dramatically reduce the three most significant forms of pollution from power plants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.

"This legislation," Bush told the government scientists, "will constitute the most significant step America has ever taken to cut power plant emissions that contribute to urban smog, acid rain and numerous health problems for our citizens."

The administration would reduce the emissions of power plants by setting target limits, assigning permits for each ton of pollution and allowing companies to trade them. It made no proposal to curb carbon, a major byproduct of coal-burning power plants.

If a company could keep its pollution below government caps in these areas, it could sell that advantage to a company that couldn't. Its intention is to make it profitable not to pollute.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Relying on tax incentives, the gradual, voluntary reduction of greenhouse gases is an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Senate has soundly rejected. I reaffirm America's commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention and its central goal to stabilize...
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2002-00-14
Thursday, 14 February 2002 12:00 AM
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