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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 11:21 GMT
Nations split over Bush climate plan
Cooling towers
Critics say Bush is appeasing US big business
Proposals by US President George W Bush to tackle global warming have provoked a mixed reaction at home and abroad.

As an alternative to the Kyoto accord, which he rejected last year, Mr Bush is proposing tax incentives to encourage industry to reduce greenhouse gas output on a voluntary basis.

Critics have said the plan is a concession to big business and a "hollow attempt" to shift responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions onto developing nations.

They may seem to the president like a big step forward but I'm afraid that for the rest of mankind they're actually a big step backward

Democratic Party Senator Joe Lieberman
Japan's Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki said he appreciated Mr Bush's efforts but Tokyo was still not satisfied that they went far enough. Japan hosted talks that led to the Kyoto accord.

However, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi welcomed Mr Bush's proposals, saying they showed his serious intention of addressing the issue of climate change.

She added Tokyo would continue to lobby Washington to accept the Kyoto accord.

Biggest polluters

However, the German Government said the US plan was unlikely to lead to cuts in emissions.

1. Burning of fossil fuels increases atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases

2. These trap some of the sun's energy and reflect the heat back down to earth.

3. Some scientists argue increased levels of greenhouse gases leads to overheating, causing global warming

Click here for animated graphic showing the Greenhouse Effect

"Because of its non-binding character, one can hardly expect the programme to significantly lower the already high US emissions, if at all," Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said.

And his French counterpart, Yves Cochet, has called on the European Union to oppose Mr Bush's plans and urge him to ratify the Kyoto protocol instead.

For its part, China called on Washington to take the lead in cutting greenhouse gases.

"Developed countries have the duty to take the lead in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emission, because historically and at present, they are the main emitters of greenhouse gas," a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

Announcing the plan on Thursday, Mr Bush argued that economic growth is the key to environmental protection because it pays for the means to invest in cleaner industries.

Unfair exemptions

Mr Bush said the Kyoto treaty would have put millions of people out of work because of its mandatory reductions.

Bush's proposals
Cut ratio of emissions to US GDP growth by 18% over 10 years
Tax incentives to reduce sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury emissions
Increase 2003 budget by $700m to $4.5bn to fund initiatives

It was unfair, he said, because it would have penalised the US and exempted many developing countries such as India and China.

The main difference between the Bush initiative and the Kyoto treaty is that it proposes goals rather than mandatory reductions and a relative rather than net reduction in emissions.

Reaction was also mixed in the United States itself.

The Democrat leader in the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt, said Mr Bush was more interested in helping energy companies than achieving genuine cuts.

But Peter Raven, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science welcomed the proposal.

"President Bush came in highly sceptical about the basis for global warming but has become convinced that it is a real problem for the world," he said.

"The speech... is a very reasonable beginning."

The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports from Washington
"George Bush's alternative is about to create heat around the world"
Margot Wallstrom, EU environment commissioner
"We will continue to have dialogue with the US"
Adlai Amor of the World Resources Institute
"The solution he proposes is quite disappointing"
Who is right on climate change?

United States

Kyoto agreement

Both are wrong

2898 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

14 Feb 02 | Americas
Q&A: The US and climate change
14 Feb 02 | Americas
US plans Kyoto alternative
11 Jun 01 | Americas
Bush faces up to Kyoto critics
17 Jul 01 | Americas
Bush firm on Kyoto and missiles
02 Apr 01 | Americas
Bush urged to rethink Kyoto snub
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
15 Feb 02 | Americas
US scepticism over global warming
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