- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

From combined dispatches

President Bush now has "a basis of sound science on which decisions can be made" on global warming, his spokesman said yesterday, one day after the White House received a report concluding the phenomenon is a real problem and getting worse.

"The president is committed to reducing global warming," spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters.

Asked whether the United States bears special responsibility as the world's largest producer of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, Mr. Fleischer said, "The president believes that all nations have a responsibility."

Mr. Bush, who asked for the study by the National Academy of Sciences to help the administration decide what steps to take to combat climate change, faces mounting pressure from critics at home and abroad who want the United States to enter a global-warming treaty.

The study found global warming "is real and particularly strong within the past 20 years" and said a leading cause is emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. It also said that greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of "human activities."

"There's no question that part of the cause is human activity," Mr. Fleischer said yesterday. "The question is how much of the cause is human activity."

The academy's report found that by 2100, temperatures are expected to increase between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit above those of 1990.

Mr. Bush assembled a Cabinet-level working group on global warming in March, about two weeks after he backed away from a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. About the same time, he rejected the global-warming treaty negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It would require industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gases by specified amounts.

The president has been meeting this week with Cabinet members to decide strategy on how to sell his almost-finished proposal for a global-warming agreement.

Senior administration officials say Mr. Bush, preparing for talks on the issue next week in Europe, hopes to surprise skeptical allies with a strong statement Monday committing the United States to combating global warming.

But Mr. Bush won't carry a detailed Kyoto alternative to Europe. Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he will allude to a series of mostly voluntary initiatives.

U.S. companies such as Enron Corp., DuPont Co. and American Electric Power Co. that have taken voluntary steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions are urging the Bush administration to salvage at least parts of the Kyoto treaty.

These companies "very much like the Kyoto framework and hope that there is a way to preserve the best parts and fix the parts that need to be fixed," said Eileen Claussen, executive director of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, whose 33 members include Alcoa Inc., Holnam Inc. and BP PLC.

The corporations that want Mr. Bush to act have been lobbying the task force, saying regulation of carbon dioxide emissions is inevitable. They don't want to have to deal with an international patchwork of regulations, and they want to benefit from the anti-pollution steps they have already taken, she said.

Among the likely initiatives the president will endorse is creating a trading market where industrial polluters far exceeding emission standards could buy offsetting credits from those who pollute little, administration officials said.

The issue is causing the president headaches domestically and internationally. In addition to criticism and outrage from allies, Republican polls show that doubts about his stance on global warming and other environmental issues have hurt his job-approval rating.

Sweden's prime minister said yesterday he is hopeful European leaders and Mr. Bush can agree this month to "go on with the process" of addressing climate change despite U.S. opposition.

"We just can't sit still and see the whole process collapse," said Goeran Persson, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation European Union. "Hopefully, we will be able to have a result with the Americans that tells us that we both want to go on with the process, but we agree to disagree so far about the substance."

Mr. Bush has insisted that any treaty include developing countries and assure that pollution reductions don't damage the U.S. economy.

The Senate went on the record before the Kyoto treaty was negotiated saying that any global warming accord mandating greenhouse gas reductions for industrial countries should require them for developing nations, too.

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