Bush sets goal to control emissions by 2025


Washington : US President George W. Bush announced Wednesday that he was setting a goal to halt the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 to combat global warming.

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Bush said the new objective enhanced his effort to thwart global warming that he launched in 2002 to reduce greenhouse-gas growth by 18 percent by 2012.

“It is now time for the US to look beyond 2012 and take the next step,” Bush said. “We have shown that we can slow emissions growth.”

Bush’s announcement came ahead of a G8 meeting in Paris this week to discuss climate change among the world’s leading democratic industrialized nations ahead of a G8 summit set to take place in Japan in July.

The new 2025 goal for halting emissions growth was quickly criticized by environmental groups and does not meet last year’s recommendations of a United Nations-backed panel of world scientists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a series of reports warned that the rise in global emissions should be halted by 2015 to prevent global warming’s worst consequences.

Bush broke with most countries shortly after taking office when he withdrew the US signature from the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes international limits on greenhouse gases.

Bush said Wednesday that Kyoto was “flawed” and would have harmed the US economy and forced jobs to go overseas, because it did not include limits on the emissions of emerging economies.

The US is involved in talks on a treaty to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012. Bush reiterated that no country should get a “free ride” and has advocated a more flexible approach by improving technology and focusing on the use of bio-fuels.

The US production of bio-fuels, which relies on maize crops, came under fierce criticism from some developing countries at a World Bank meeting this weekend for causing surging food prices that have led to hunger and rioting.

Bush also remains opposed to a cap-and-trade system, which would allow companies that fall below limits to sell their leftover emissions allowance to companies that exceed their limitations.

His position has drawn strong criticism from Democrats who back the cap-and-trade approach, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The President should support the efforts of … Congress to pass historic cap-and-trade climate legislation, which will begin to limit emissions and serve as a basis for global cooperation,” Pelosi said in a statement before Bush’s speech.

Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, called the new goal a “step backwards” for US policy because it allowed emissions to continue growing until 2025.

“The only good news is that this is irrelevant … because this administration has only nine months left in office and we have three presidential candidates who will take this issue seriously,” Claussen said.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, have all said they support more aggressive action on climate change including a cap-and- trade programme.

Pelosi accused Bush of failing to use his regulatory power to rein in emissions. Bush’s speech came only hours after he hosted Pope Benedict XVI at the White House. The pope has called on nations to act to slow global warming.

Bush has supported legislation to raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon to encourage the development of alternate fuels and increase the efficiency of lighting and appliances.

The US has also pledged $2 billion over three years to a global Clean Technology Fund, which the World Bank Wednesday said could be officially launched as soon as May.

Recent court cases have mandated the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide, while the endangerment of polar bears and other Arctic species threatened by global warming means the Endangered Species Act could be used to crack down on major polluters.

Bush said he opposed the role of courts in requiring the government to take steps against climate change.