Technology the Focus of Bush Global Warming Conference

WASHINGTON, DC, August 6, 2007 (ENS) - President George W. Bush has invited leaders of the world's "major economies" to a conference on climate change September 27 and 28 in Washington. In his letter of invitation to 15 national governments plus the European Union and the United Nations, the president said the conference will place "special emphasis" on technology.

President Bush said he will address the conference, which will consider how to deal with global climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012.

President George W. Bush (Photo courtesy The White House )

"At this meeting, we would seek agreement on the process by which the major economies would, by the end of 2008, agree upon a post-2012 framework that could include a long-term global goal, nationally defined mid-term goals and strategies, and sector-based approaches for improving energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Bush wrote.

"We expect to place special emphasis on how major economies can, in close cooperation with the private sector, accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies, a critical component of an effective global approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he wrote.

The President Bush has long favored the technology rather than binding emissions limits as the best way to address climate change.

The president's preferences run to nuclear power, clean coal, ethanol and other biofuels. The White House said in February that including the 2008 budget request the Bush administration "will have spent $15 billion since 2001 to develop cleaner, cheaper, more efficient, and more reliable energy sources." By contrast, the war in Iraq has cost more than $500 billion to date.

Coal-fired power plant in Cross, South Carolina (Photo courtesy Santee Cooper)

The Bush conference, where the United States will set the agenda, comes three days after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosts an international high-level climate conference just prior to the general debate of the incoming General Assembly.

Ban will seek to advance progress towards negotiations on a new global agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions to follow the Kyoto Protocol, but Ban says he will not seek to engage governments in negotiations.

Formal negotiations will begin at the annual UN climate conference that will be held this year in Bali, Indonesia in December.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel said that the Bush administration's conference is intended to support, not conflict with, the United Nations' work on climate change.

"We feel that this effort is intended to aid the UN process that is ongoing," Stanzel said Friday, "We're pleased to have the support of the secretary-general and the head of the UNFCCC. We expect the results in 2008 from these major economies to contribute to the global agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2009. So we think it can enhance that process."

Weifang coal-fired power plant in Shandong, China (Photo courtesy SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corp)

Bush has designated Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to host the conference, which he told invitees is the first of a series of meetings throughout 2008 "to further refine our plans and accelerate our progress on this important challenge."

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will serve as the president's personal representative, and the U.S. delegation will consist of senior officials responsible for economic, energy, and climate policy, Bush said.

Invited governments include - Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, plus the European Union and the United Nations.

Some environmentalists say that the Bush climate conference is an effort to deflect international pressure for the United States to accept mandatory greenhouse emissions gas limits, something the president still refuses to do.

In response, Stanzel said, "We have always said that we think that this issue should be addressed with developing nations, with the countries that are involved today, that the President invited to this conference."

Dadri (NCTPP) coal-fired power plant in Delhi, India (Photo courtesy Ministry of Power)

"We think it's an opportunity for those nations and those countries to come together to talk about what we can do in the post-2012 environment to address greenhouse gas emissions; what we can do to advance new technologies to help those developing nations reduce their emissions and help us all have a cleaner environment with a healthy economy."

On May 31, 2007 when Bush first announced his intention to host a climate change conference, UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer said Connaughton had personally promised him that the president's climate meeting would feed into the United Nations process.

At the G8 meeting in Germany in June, Bush agreed with the other G8 leaders for the first time to establish common goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases as part of the United Nations process.

Now the world's number two emitter of greenhouse gases, after China, the United States has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

President Bush has cited the fact that the protocol does not apply to developing nations such as China and India as a major reason for not backing the protocol, which the United States signed during the Clinton administration.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.