- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

President Bush yesterday announced a new, long-term plan to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate global warming, relying on new technology instead of regulation.

“The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that … will take place in Germany next week,” Mr. Bush said, referring to the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm. “The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.”

The president said that by the end of 2008, he wants the leading industrial countries to agree on a long-term plan to reduce emissions.

But Mr. Bush’s proposed solutions — more investment in new technologies and efficient energy sources and wide latitude to allow countries to set their own binding measures — differs widely from the conventional European view.

Mr. Bush’s proposal was received enthusiastically by European leaders, while Democratic leaders in the United States panned it.

“The significance of this is America accepting [climate change] as a real problem now, accepting it’s got to offer real leadership on this issue and being prepared to be part of a global deal,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. “That’s a huge step forward from where we were a few years ago.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who returned yesterday from a trip to Europe and Greenland that focused on global warming, dismissed Mr. Bush’s proposal.

“Instead of fresh thinking, the president today just rehashed the same stale proposals he has repeatedly put forward to the international community,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Technology transfers and voluntary emissions targets are not enough to reverse global warming.”

Mrs. Pelosi announced that she will hold a press conference today, with Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the special committee on global warming that Mrs. Pelosi created, to address the president’s speech.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has made climate change a centerpiece of the G-8 talks, said Mr. Bush’s speech was “an important statement on the way to Heiligendamm.”

However, Mrs. Merkel said she hoped for “significantly more progress” on the issue during talks next week.

“It’s really good that the U.S. is showing leadership in energizing the debate,” said Yvo de Boer, the United Nations’ climate change chief. “This is actually more ambitious than my wildest dreams.”

Comments made on both sides of the global-warming issue yesterday highlighted the ongoing debate over the nature of the global-warming threat.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, in an interview taped Wednesday but broadcast yesterday morning on National Public Radio, downplayed the threat.

“I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with,” Mr. Griffin said.

However, Kit Vaughan of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature told Reuters that Mr. Bush’s plan did so little to fight global warming that it was immoral.

“This is trying to leapfrog next week’s summit … by aiming at the end of 2008. We don’t have time for this. There are lives being lost. It is morally unacceptable,” Mr. Vaughan said.

Kenneth Green, a global-warming specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, said Mr. Bush’s proposal was in part a “face-saving” measure that could be loosely interpreted by European leaders as a victory.

It will take time, Mr. Green said, to determine whether Mr. Bush intends to set up a coalition of nations outside of U.N. control or to pursue emissions controls within the U.N. process.

The G-8 summit will be attended by member states Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. Mrs. Merkel also has invited representatives from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa to the summit.

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