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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
Bush feels heat on global warming
By BBC NewsOnline's Kevin Anderson in Washington
President George Bush has announced a multi-million-dollar package of studies and initiatives aimed at reducing the emissions of gases blamed for changes in the climate.
But White House officials say that will go to talks in Germany with no alternative to the Kyoto protocol that President Bush withdrew from earlier this year.
Mr Bush called the agreement "fatally flawed" and said that it would harm the US economy.
But he is facing pressure from both parties in Congress to address climate change.
The Bush administration's new climate change initiatives include a $120m investment in Nasa research of the natural carbon cycle, climate modelling and links between atmospheric chemistry and the climate.
Mr Bush said the studies would help to "reduce uncertainties" about global warming.
Other initiatives would study forestry and land use policies in Brazil and Belize and a $14m "debt-for-forest" deal El Salvador conserve its rain forests.
The announcements come as the US prepares to attend climate talks in Bonn.
In a surprise move early this year, Mr Bush announced that the US would pull put out of the Kyoto protocol on global climate change.
In addition his concern that the pact would harm the US economy, he also criticised the pact for exempting developing countries including China and India from emissions cuts.
When he announced the United States' exit from the pact, he promised to develop an alternative plan that would not harm the economies of the US or other signatories.
However, US officials said that they would not be presenting an alternative to the Kyoto protocol in upcoming climate talks in Bonn.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the administration is carrying out a cabinet-level review on ways to reduce greenhouse gases.
Praise and criticism
Conservatives have praised Mr Bush for rejecting the pact, but environmental groups, angered at the rejection of the treaty, are calling on the president to come forward with his alternatives.
Charli Coon, an energy policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, praised Mr Bush for rejecting the treaty and said that it would have driven up petrol prices by 30% and electricity costs by at least 50%.
She said that Mr Bush was right to reject a treaty that would have wreaked economic chaos in the United States, and she bristles at the portrayal of the US as unconcerned about pollution.
She pointed out that the US passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 and that while energy consumption in the US increased by 42% since then, emissions decreased by 31%.
And she said that the US should not commit itself to any international agreement until the science is settled.
But environmental groups are calling on Mr Bush to act and offer concrete measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"President Bush says he takes global warming seriously, but he is stalling instead of acting to cut global warming pollution," said David Hawkins, director of the National Resources Defence Council's Climate Centre.
And Mr Hawkins condemned the administration's energy plan for its reliance on fossil fuels, which he said would accelerate global warming.
Pressure from Congress
The pressure for President Bush address climate change is not coming solely from environmental groups but also from members of both parties in Congress.
Senator Jim Jeffords, who defected from the Republican Party and tipped the balance of power in the Senate to the Democrats, has said that he will make global warming his first priority as the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Mr Jeffords also said that he wants Mr Bush to rejoin negotiations on the Kyoto protocol.
And Republican Senator John McCain, who challenged Mr Bush for the presidential nomination, joined Democratic Senator John Kerry in challenging Mr Bush to help Congress craft legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, one of the gases blamed for climate change.
Mr Kerry blasted the administration in its assertion that it is studying the issue and said President Bush had blocked several domestic and international initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"We're in fact being misled. The president is not just studying the issue," Kerry said.
Outrage from Europe
But the most vocal criticism of Mr Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol has come from Europe.
The anger stems from the perception that Mr Bush brushed aside 10 years of negotiations without seeming to be informed, said Michael Grubb, Professor of Climate Change and Energy Policy, Imperial College.
Supporters of Mr Bush have countered that attacks by Europeans are disingenuous because only one European country had ratified the pact.
But Mr Grubb said that American president is being seen as deliberately misleading the American public.
Negotiations on rules and implementation still need to be completed before countries were expected to ratify the pact, and those negotiations are still ongoing, he said.
And he added, "That is very inflammatory thing to say to governments that had begun to fight some very important battles domestically."
He pointed to the difficulty that Prime Minister Blair had in pursuing the climate levy during his first term.
And as for an alternative, he said, "we've heard no squeak as to what the alternatives are comprised of."
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