This morning, President Bush gave this keynote address at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC), a ministerial-level conference hosted by the U.S. government.
Trying to stamp down what he called “stereotypes,” Bush insisted the US was leading the effort to combat global warming:
Now, look, I understand stereotypes are hard to defeat. People get an image planted in their head, and sometimes it causes them not to listen to the facts. But America is in the lead when it comes to energy independence; we’re in the lead when it comes to new technologies; we’re in the lead when it comes to global climate change — and we’ll stay that way.
Bush’s claim defies the imagination. At the UN conference in Bali in December, the US objected to the proposal — backed by Britain and the EU — to cut carbon dioxide emissions 24–40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. “We have problems with defining the numbers up front,” the White House’s head climate negotiator explained.
Six months earlier, Bush single-handedly killed a statement of commitment to halving emissions by 2050 by the leaders at the G8 summit.
While the US remains only industrialized nation that has refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, other nations are taking the lead:
— Britain has set a strong goal to cut CO2 emissions by 60 percent by 2050, leaving the door open for steeper cuts.
— Sweden will half its CO2 emissions by 2050.
— The European Union created a cap-and-trade system more than two years ago, in 2005.
— French President Nicolas Sarkozy has supported caps on airplane emissions.
— Japan announced last month that it would consider a cap-and-trade system.