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Climate Change Campaign

The Bush Plan for Addressing Climate Change

World Resources Institute says Bush Plans will increase greenhouse emissions by 14%

WASHINGTON DC, February 14 2002 - President George Bush's new global warming plan will increase greenhouse gas emissions by 14%, said officials at the World Resources Institute (WRI) today.

"I wish the President's plan were a serious effort to deal with global warming. But it is not. The plan will only succeed in confusing the American people, and our allies overseas, with misleading statistics," Dr Nancy Kete, director of WRI's Climate, Energy, and Pollution Program.

She added that President Bush's boast that the amount of greenhouse gases in relation to gross domestic product growth would fall by 18% over the next 10 years is misleading. "Emissions under Bush's plan would actually increase by 14% during the time period. And far from being comparable to the efforts by others under the Kyoto Protocol, US emissions would be 33% above the Kyoto baseline in 2012, compared with a 5% cut for industrialized countries," Dr Kete said.

President Bush unveiled his plans today, the results of a year-long cabinet review, before departing for a trip to Asia this weekend. The announcement was also timed to influence the on-going Senate debate on his energy plan and to ease the passage of new controls on emissions from power plants.

"What the President called an aggressive new strategy for the next ten years is really warmed-over business as usual. Over the last 10 years greenhouse gas intensity fell by 17%, the same amount Bush is calling for now. So there's nothing really new or bold about this strategy," Dr Kete said.

The President did not set out a long-term goal for US policy even though last year, in dismissing the Kyoto Protocol as "fatally flawed", he had said that the US approach "would be consistent with the long-term goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere". Today's announcement was silent on this point, but WRI experts point out one cannot have a viable global strategy for protecting the climate system that allows US emissions to increase indefinitely.

They also said that President Bush failed to justify why a market-based system was necessary to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from power plants by 70% but not applicable to carbon dioxide emissions.

"President Bush's plan will give no clear signal to business that it needs to start preparing for a less carbon-intensive world. We will lose a decade by failing to require all companies to begin investing in cleaner technology," said Dr Kete.

Many major corporations are already demonstrating that emissions trading is a very cost-effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. WRI experts said that they would be disappointed that the President took no steps towards setting up a US-wide trading scheme.

President Bush's plan also calls for voluntary emissions reporting. However, the US already has voluntary reporting programs for greenhouse gases that attract only the proactive companies.

"We need a mandatory and accurate system that catches the laggards and establishes a proper emissions baseline," said Janet Ranganathan, senior associate at WRI. There are already internationally accepted standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by WRI and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This tool would provide the necessary basis for an emissions-trading scheme.

"The Bush Administration came into office emphasizing uncertainties about the science of global warming and declaring its objections to the Kyoto Protocol," said Dr Kete. "A year later, after an extensive review, the Administration had a golden opportunity to set out a coherent plan showing how America would set about fighting global warming. Unfortunately, it failed to do so."

The World Resources Institute is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to create practical ways to protect the Earth and improve people's lives.

For more information, contact:
Adlai J. Amor


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