President Bush Backtracks on Climate

Posted on 15 March 2001
Washington DC, US - In a landmark retreat on climate change, President Bush has bowed to the interests of America's coal and power plant lobbies, according to WWF, the conservation organization.

Replying to Republican Senator Hagel, who has been critical of taking action against climate change, President Bush earlier this week came come out against making mandatory reductions of carbon pollution from power plants.

President Bush also stated, "I oppose the Kyoto Protocol" - the agreement intended to shave 5 per cent of industrialised nations' global warming gases in the coming decade. His letter cites arguments of "serious harm to the US economy", "the incomplete state of scientific knowledge" on global warming and "the lack of commercially available technologies" as the main arguments for deciding against reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the US.

"President Bush is wrong on the costs, wrong on the science, and wrong on the technologies," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF's Climate Change Campaign. "His stance ignores the welfare of those who are increasingly suffering the day-to-day effects of humanity's interference with the climate that's being caused by carbon pollution."

On Mr. Bush's flawed economics, WWF points to a variety of studies for the US as a whole and for the States of Florida, Texas, Michigan and New England that show how prudent and proven policies could cut emissions while reducing consumers' energy bills.

On science, President Bush's letter comes only weeks after U.S. officials helped approve a new global scientific consensus on climate change during meetings in Shanghai, Geneva and Accra. In the strongest consensus to date, the IPCC concluded that most of the global warming observed over the last 50 years is due to human activities - primarily burning coal, oil and gas for energy - which have increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. They also agreed that climate change impacts are already occurring in all environments and on all continents but that there is no shortage of available technologies to reduce global warming gases.

"Other, more progressive governments should not wait for the US. WWF is urging governments that are already moving ahead and reducing their emissions to also redouble their efforts to engage President Bush on this problem. This is key to heading-off the worst impacts of climate change on the world's coral reefs, polar bears and countless citizens around the world," said Jennifer Morgan.

WWF had been cautiously hopeful that the new US Administration might be serious about tackling climate change following the moderate tone adopted by US representative and head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Christie Todd Whitman, at the meeting of G8 environment ministers in Trieste, Italy, 10 days ago. The constructive tone of the G8 communiqué appears to have alarmed US coal and power plant industries that are the main emitters of CO2 and which have in recent days engaged in heavy lobbying of the White House.

For more information:

Kara Rinaldi, Climate Change Press Officer, Tel: +1 202 257 9959 (mobile)

Andrew Kerr, Public Affairs Manager, WWF Climate Change Campaign, Tel: +316 5161 9462 (mobile)

Robert Kihara, Press Officer, WWF International, Tel: +41 22 364 9553