President Bush Proposes Developing International Goal by End of 2008 for Greenhouse Gas Reduction
31 May 2007
During a speech today focusing on the US international development agenda, President Bush announced that the US will work with other nations “to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.”
The President proposed convening a series of meetings of the US and the other nations that produce the most greenhouse gases—including India and China—to develop by the end of 2008 a long-term global goal for greenhouse gas reduction. The end of 2008 is also the Administration’s current target for developing federal regulations that will reduce gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. (Earlier post.)
In addition to this long-term global goal, each country would establish midterm national targets, and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs. Over the course of the next 18 months, our nations would bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation and alternative fuels and transportation. These leaders will form working groups that will cooperate on ways to share clean energy technology and best practices.
It’s important to ensure that we get results, and so we will create a strong and transparent system for measuring each country’s performance. This new framework would help our nations fulfill our responsibilities under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States will work with all nations that are part of this convention to adapt to the impacts of climate change, gain access to clean and more energy-efficient technologies, and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture.—President Bush
President Bush emphasized the importance that he places on technology, specifically noting work in solar and wind energy; advanced coal technologies; and nuclear energy. For the transportation sector, the President noted work being done with hybrids; plug-in hybrids; advanced diesel engines; biodiesel; cellulosic ethanol; and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. He also referred to his proposed mandatory renewable fuel standard of 35 billion gallons annually by 2017. (Earlier post.)
The United States is taking the lead, and that’s the message I’m going to take to the G8... At the G8 Summit, I’m going to encourage world leaders to increase their own investments in research and development... I'm looking forward to discussing ways to encourage more investment in developing nations by making low-cost financing options for clean energy a priority of the international development banks.
We’re also going to work to conclude talks with other nations on eliminating tariffs and other barriers to clean energy technologies and services by the end of year. If you are truly committed to helping the environment, nations need to get rid of their tariffs, need to get rid of those barriers that prevent new technologies from coming into their countries. We’ll help the world’s poorest nations reduce emissions by giving them government-developed technologies at low cost, or in some case, no cost at all.—President Bush
The President’s announcement came shortly after the US rejected the European Union’s two-degree target for climate change, whereby global temperatures would not be allowed to increase more than 2° C this century. Meeting that target would result in reductions in emissions of about 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.
The announcement also came in the wake of the publication of national data submitted to the UN Climate Change Secretariat showing that overall greenhouse gas emissions from G8 nations rose 2.0% from 2000 to 2005, and are up 0.7% since 1990, the Kyoto Protocol base year. Among G8 nations, Russia, Italy and Canada have all logged bigger increases than the 1.6% US gain since 2000.
The revival of the Russian economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union is a significant source of the increase. Only Britain, Germany and France have reduced greenhouse gas emissions since 2000. Since 1990, however, US emissions have increased 16.3%, the second worst behind Canada.
In a White House press conference following the speech, Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, provided additional details regarding the Administration’s plan and approach.
The overall concept is to have a long-term “aspirational goal”, Connaughton said, with each country developing national strategies for the first phase of trying to meet the goal. Some of those national strategies may be regulatory and binding, some may not.
In those national strategies, I’ll give the American example. We now have mandatory fuel economy standards, and those are binding. We have mandatory renewable power standards at the state level; those are binding. The President has called on new fuel standards and new auto-efficiency standards. Europe is doing the same thing. They’ve got sort of a European direction, but each of the European member states sets their own binding national programs.
... China has made a national commitment to improve the energy efficiency of their economy by 20% by 2010. That’s a very consequential commitment. They’re going to achieve that through a wide array of programs. Some of them are quite dramatically regulatory. That’s exactly what we’d like to see China do, but they retain sovereignty—they get to decide on the right mix, rather than us telling them what the mix should be.—Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
Connaughton said that the US and Germany had been having a lengthy discussion on climate change and energy security that will result in a text coming out of the G8 Summit next week.
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