U.S. Media Blows Coverage Of Bush’s Climate Speech, Needs Tutorial From International Press

After President Bush gave a speech yesterday outlining his energy and climate change strategy, the U.S. media quickly heralded Bush’s “new” policy as a “shift” from his previously dismal environmental record:

Washington Post: President Bush sought yesterday to take the initiative on global warming talks…signal[ing] a shift in the administration’s often-criticized approach.New York Times: Bush, fending off international accusations that he was ignoring climate change, proposed for the first time on Thursday to set “a long-term global goal” for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. … It would be a major shift for Mr. Bush, who has resisted such absolute goals.

Los Angeles Times: Bush offers to take climate lead. The U.S. and other big emitters would set goals under his plan.

The reaction to Bush’s speech from the international community — whose ambitous proposal to reduce global warming Bush recently tried to gut — was “far from positive”:

The Guardian (UK): George Bush yesterday threw international efforts to control climate change into confusion with a proposal to create a “new global framework” to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Der Spiegel (Germany): US President George W. Bush seems confident that his climate change initiative will find broad support. But the first reactions out of Europe have been far from positive.Deutsche Welle (Germany): European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has sharply criticized plans outlined by US President George W Bush to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying the United States needs to set more ambitious goals.

The international press got it right. Bush did not mention the words “global warming” once yesterday, yet the U.S. media reported as if he did. Furthermore, Bush’s plan “listed no concrete targets or dates, no enforcement mechanism and no penalties for noncompliance. It also wouldn’t take effect until four years after Bush leaves office.”


Instead, Bush’s policy would continue the ineffective policy of voluntary caps on emissions. White House science adviser Jim Connaughton, who oversaw the elimination of references to global warming in White House documents, summed it up: “In this instance, you have a long-term, aspirational goal.”

More at Gristmill and Climate Progress.