The White House yesterday embraced a new international report faulting humans for global warming, marking the furthest President Bush has gone in placing blame.
But administration officials again rejected the Kyoto-style caps on carbon emissions that have been the preferred solution of European nations.
The report, released in Paris by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the fact that the Earth is now warming “is unequivocal,” and said it is “very likely” that human activity is responsible for many of the changes.
“Human activity is contributing to changes in our Earth’s climate, and that issue is no longer up for debate,” said Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, who took great pains in a press conference yesterday to point out that U.S. research money and science was critical to producing the report.
But Mr. Bodman said Mr. Bush wants to combat warming through better technology and by encouraging a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, rather than mandatory curbs such as European nations have adopted.
“A carbon cap in this country may lead to the transfer of jobs and industries abroad that do not have such a carbon cap, and that you would then have the U.S. economy damaged on the one hand, and the same emissions — in fact, potentially even worse emissions, because in many of these countries they don’t have the kind of standards,” Mr. Bodman said.
Global warming is shaping up as a major fight between Mr. Bush and Congress this year.
Democrats, now in the majority, generally favor caps or other mandatory controls. Yesterday they said Mr. Bush took a step forward and a step backward.
“The Bush administration, having seen the very real shadow of scientific evidence of global warming, has chosen to go back into its hole of denial by saying that it will not support measures to reduce global warming,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.
But by agreeing with the report’s science, Mr. Bush disappointed some in his own party.
“It’s a shame the administration did not acknowledge that today’s report was just a political summary,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.
But Mr. Inhofe said the administration was right to reject mandatory caps, “since the proposed reductions would have virtually no impact on the climate, but would have a definite impact on the economy.”
Michael McKenna, a strategist and informal adviser to Republicans on climate issues, said the president has conceded the science in order to make his stand on the solutions.
“It moves us onto terrain where we have a fighting chance of winning, and that’s who do you trust more — the bureaucrats and lawyers, or the scientists and engineers who are going to design the solutions,” he said.
Former Vice President Al Gore said it would be “suicidal” not to take action on the report.
“Today is a day to let the science speak for itself,” he said when delivering a keynote address to a group of 1,500 Silicon Valley leaders. “It’s a crisis in the relationship between human civilization and the planet Earth.”
Christina Bellantoni contributed to this article from San Jose, Calif.