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Bush insists on unity on green pact

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2008

President Bush says the United States will not participate in any international agreement on climate change unless all major countries are on board and the policies put forth would not stifle economic growth.

"In order for there to be effective international agreements, these agreements must include solid commitments from every major economy, and no country should get a free ride," said Mr. Bush, referring primarily to China and India, who are exempted from the current global pact that the United States refused to ratify.

Mr. Bush, speaking yesterday at a U.S. government-hosted renewable energies conference, also said that "an effective agreement is one that recognizes that economies have got to be able to grow ... in order to be able to afford research and development."

Mr. Bush did not announce any new energy policies.

"Stereotypes are hard to defeat," Mr. Bush said, referring to criticisms of the United States for opposing mandatory emissions caps. "People get an image planted in their head, and sometimes it causes them not to listen to the facts. But America is in the lead when it comes to energy independence."

"We're in the lead when it comes to new technologies. We're in the lead when it comes to global climate change, and we'll stay that way."

The 2008 Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, at the Washington Convention Center, focused on developing new technologies to move the global economy away from oil dependence.

Underscoring the need for energy independence, the 13-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries yesterday rejected requests from the United States to increase crude-oil production levels, causing record-high prices to soar even further to a close of $104.52 per barrel.

Mr. Bush focused his speech on the economic and national-security obstacles created by the nation's dependence on oil, which constitutes about 60 percent of its supply, he said, mentioning the effect on the environment only in passing.

He did acknowledge there should be an international agreement on climate change, which prompted applause, but he then advised the crowd to be "results-oriented people, not process-oriented people."

Mr. Bush has opposed mandatory emissions caps and refused to sign the 2001 Kyoto Protocol because it exempted China and India.

Many climate-change authorities, however, think the private sector will not make a meaningful shift toward alternative-energy sources without mandatory emissions caps.

Mr. Bush lost a key international ally on climate change last fall, when Australian Prime Minister John Howard was defeated by Australian Labor Party candidate Kevin Rudd, who has said he will reverse Mr. Howard's climate-change policy and approve Kyoto.

While the Bush administration continues to oppose caps unless China and India are included, some reports indicate the United States might agree to mandatory restrictions if China and India agree to caps on some portions of their economies.

Of course, Kyoto does not expire until 2012, and as of this time next year, a different president will be calling the shots on U.S. environmental and energy policies.