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Bush Puts Forward New Climate Policy:

The Associated Press is reporting that President Bush is calling upon the leaders of the fifteen nations with the greatest carbon dioxide emissions to meet and set emission targets by the end of 2008.

UPDATE: More from Reuters here. One part of the proposal that seems long overdue is a cut in tariffs and other trade barriers that inhibit the proliferation of cleaner technologies.

FURTHER UPDATE: Here are some excerpts from Bush's remarks today about the new approach.

Bringing progress and prosperity to struggling nations requires growing amounts of energy. It's hard to grow your economy if you don't have energy. Yet, producing that energy can create environmental challenges for the world. We need to harness the power of technology to help nations meet their growing energy needs while protecting the environment and addressing the challenge of global climate change.

In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it. The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week. The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. To help develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.

In addition to this long-term global goal, each country would establish midterm national targets, and programs that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs. Over the course of the next 18 months, our nations would bring together industry leaders from different sectors of our economies, such as power generation and alternative fuels and transportation. These leaders will form working groups that will cooperate on ways to share clean energy technology and best practices.

It's important to ensure that we get results, and so we will create a strong and transparent system for measuring each country's performance. This new framework would help our nations fulfill our responsibilities under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States will work with all nations that are part of this convention to adapt to the impacts of climate change, gain access to clean and more energy-efficient technologies, and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture. . . .

Last week, the Department of Energy announced that in 2006, our carbon emissions decreased by 1.3 percent while our economy grew by 3.3 percent. This experience shows that a strong and growing economy can deliver both a better life for its people and a cleaner environment at the same time.

At the G8 summit, I'm going to encourage world leaders to increase their own investments in research and development. I'm looking forward to working with them. I'm looking forward to discussing ways to encourage more investment in developing nations by making low-cost financing options for clean energy a priority of the international development banks.

We're also going to work to conclude talks with other nations on eliminating tariffs and other barriers to clean energy technologies and services by the end of year. If you are truly committed to helping the environment, nations need to get rid of their tariffs, need to get rid of those barriers that prevent new technologies from coming into their countries. We'll help the world's poorest nations reduce emissions by giving them government-developed technologies at low cost, or in some case, no cost at all.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner rounds up some of the coverage here.

FantasiaWHT:
Is he just determined to piss off every conservative in the last 2 years of his presidency?
5.31.2007 12:27pm
plunge (mail):
China is not going to play any sort of ball. Might as well just not invite them. I mean, this is a country that accidentally pours tons of BENZINE into a river, and refuses to inform the public about it. When it reaches a major city they merely tell people not to drink the water for a few days, k thx, bye.

These are the people who we expect to sit down and have a sane discussion about climate change with? They teach their kids that China nearly single-handedly defeated Japan in WW2 and the US just dropped the nukes so as to prevent Japan from surrendering to China instead of the US.
5.31.2007 1:07pm
wahoofive (mail):
Does that mean he's going to support importing sugar-beet ethanol from Brazil?
5.31.2007 1:23pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
Didn't someone just show that global warming (and cooling) correlates perfectly with sun spot activity? The Leftists just was an excuse to tear down our successful capitalist society. Communism didn't work, so now they found a new way to make us obedient poor wretches.
5.31.2007 1:30pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Didn't someone just show that global warming (and cooling) correlates perfectly with sun spot activity? The Leftists just was an excuse to tear down our successful capitalist society. Communism didn't work, so now they found a new way to make us obedient poor wretches.

Er, would it be too much for Lonely Capitalist to ANSWER the question in his first sentence before pontificating on it in the second?
5.31.2007 1:45pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Convincing the Third World that slash-and-burn agriculture is not the way of the future would not be a bad thing.

Nick
5.31.2007 1:56pm
Andrew Okun:
It is a bit rich for him to be telling the world it's time to get serious about GHGs and to propose convening meetings, but I don't think many people are going to wind up caring. Better than the US not showing up at all.

Of course, it gives him a chance to preempt anyone else's effort to address the question inside the US. "Stop that state law! We're about to begin figuring out when we're going to convene some meetings."
5.31.2007 2:38pm
Justin (mail):
"Is he just determined to piss off every conservative in the last 2 years of his presidency?"

No, just those so extreme that they still support him. I don't think mainstream conservatives are going to be troubled by the admission that global warming exists, nor will they care too much about the immigration bill. But those conservatives probably abandoned him long ago, given his fiscal responsibility, authoritarian initiatives, and bungling foreign policy.
5.31.2007 2:43pm
a bean:
This seems quite deft. First, he must have realized that Britain Brown and France will be upping the diplomatic pressure on this subject. Pushing forward like this allows him to frame the debate in terms that might be acceptable: namely it makes China's involvement critical. China's Kyoto exemption was a major flaw with the first treaty. This is especially important given evidence that US industrial CO2 emissions are being offset/absorbed by the extensive undeveloped grasslands and forests. The same cannot be said of China.

Second this finally provides a way out of the Ethanol protectionism scheme. By linking it to something that the Democrats want (climate control treaties) he helps foil their support for ethanol import tariffs.
5.31.2007 2:45pm
Avatar (mail):
Except there is no "anyone else's effort" inside the US, unless you want to talk about California (snerk).

Honestly, nothing he's proposing is a bad idea - spread the technology around, hey, nobody loses there. Talking about developing cleaner technologies and more R&D rather than "consumption is eviiiiil". At the same time, tie future US agreement to treaty with meaningful participation by China and India, thus completely sinking any hope that one will actually develop. Heh...
5.31.2007 2:47pm
Wombat:
I think it is quite clever, myself. Simply put, neither the (vast majority of) European nor the Asian countries are succeeding in reaching their reduction goals (if they even have any), and this allows Bush to categorically state "If it is a worldwide issue, then the whole world is failing (not us specifically)". And the quite early cutoff means they can point out that the Bush administration wasn't behind the rest of the world.

Plus, the Euros like to play the "it's not happening because of lack of US leadership/involvement" card - let's see what line they come up with next.
5.31.2007 3:38pm
whackjobbbb:
Yes, unfortunately, I have to agree that this is just a cynical approach, designed to dampen the shrill environmentalist voices. I myself might prefer something more straightforward, something like pointing out that the planet's history shows it warming during certain eras with carbon dioxide levels rising AFTER the warming... i.e. carbon dioxide is a LAGGING factor... not "cause"... of at least some past periods of global warming, and that this global warming scam appears to be all just chicken-littlism.

Not politically wise approach, perhaps, but definitely more honest. I don't expect Washington to be honest and straightforward on this... or much else.

China is building more coal-fired power plants than Carter's got little pills, and that won't change any time soon, so I suspect the easier, softer (and sleazy) way is to flow with that reality, as the honorables in Washington appear to be doing.
5.31.2007 3:54pm
K:
Is there a reason to endlessly ponder the past? Kyoto was signed by the US. The Senate would not ratify. Bush became President. The Senate still wasn't going to ratify.

Kyoto didn't limit China, India, and several other nations. But it did greatly improve measurement of emissions even in those nations.

Now the key to the entire situation is nations, such as China, not bound by Kyoto. China may already be the largest emitter of CO2; most predict 2008 or 2009.

US emissions seem to have peaked and there are reasons to believe they will be be falling.

I suggest that the Senate - now controlled by Democrats - formally ask Bush to send them the Kyoto Treaty for consideration. If they can't be bothered, then draw your own conclusions.
5.31.2007 4:00pm
Avatar (mail):
Well, it's probably too early to conclude that US emissions will continue to fall into the future, based on a single data point.

What we're seeing is the gathering of the low-hanging fruit - old gas-guzzlers replaced by cars that get 35-45 mpg, hybrids, CFLs all over the place, that sort of thing. It's surely good to do these things, but it's also only going to take us so far, and at the end of the day we still have a population growing by 2 million a year or so, right?

The biggest step we could take to reduce emissions significantly would be a large-scale push to convert to nuclear power. We generate a lot of electricity, and more or less every watt that is generated by loose neutrons heating things up is one less that has to be generated by setting valuable carbon-containing material on fire. Sure, we couldn't reduce emissions to ZERO doing this - even if we had so much electricity that electric cars were a completely viable option, you still need fuel for some transportation applications (aircraft, freight trains, big trucks, etc.) But hey, if we knock a good 20% of our current emissions, we're doing a hell of a lot better than current estimates, no? Not to mention the other environmental benefits of not setting fire to so much coal.
5.31.2007 5:12pm
Billy Joe (mail):
There is nothing that requires Bush to formally send the Kyoto Treaty to the Senate. Because there is not presentment requirement, the Senate could take it up on their own. But the Senate won't for fear that it will be voted down once and for all.
5.31.2007 5:14pm
whackjobbbb:
I don't think it's "fear". Remember, when Gore came happily skipping back home with his Kyoto masterpiece, the US Senate didn't even wait for Clinton to send it down the street to them. They preemptively voted 95-0 that if Bubba even THOUGHT about sending it down, they'd slam it. Being the bright boy that he is, Bubba stuck it in the circular file underneath his desk next to... uh...

Think there's any chance Kyoto ever passes? I don't.
5.31.2007 5:29pm
K:
Avatar: Yes, US emissions have only fallen for the last year. Yet it was a year when the economy was growing rapidly. They also fell in 2001, the worst year of the last decade.

Examination of the data shows it almost flat for five years. The just announced decrease does not appear to be a fluke. And nationally the trend is clearly toward less polluting equipment, buildings, and vehicles. And toward more public transit.

Most consumers - personal or commerical - don't think about CO2 emitted but they do think about fuel bills.

I agree that nuclear must be expanded rapidly. Without it growing demand for electricity will be met by using coal and natural gas.

Billy Joe: I thought the actual treaty stayed at the State Department until sent to the Senate. And that they have always insisted upon presentation. But that may be wrong - facts are facts.

Ratification wouldn't change much before Bush leaves. And the treaty itself will need extension soon. Obviously the intent is to include more nations and tougher standards.

I only suggest that Democrats face the matter. If they don't like what Bush has not done then perhaps they can examine what they have not done.
5.31.2007 6:43pm
NickM (mail) (www):
How much of the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions was due to the reduction in usage of fuel for winter heating, since last winter was generally acknowledged as a warm one in the U.S.?

Nick
5.31.2007 7:12pm
whackjobbbb:
The energy efficiency of the US economy per unit GDP has DOUBLED over the last 30 years. We don't need Dubya lecturing us on energy policy, as we have LONG been on the conservation track, as anybody looking carefully at this would surely know.

And yes, at some point if energy prices climb high enough, the mass of total CO2 emissions will likely fall, as the market makes further adjustments. We will ultimately emit less pounds of the stuff, if carbon fuel prices keep rising. Not that I buy into the chicken little scam, of course.

Credit trading? Credit Trading? Wee doughn need no STEEENKING CREDIT TRADING!
5.31.2007 7:28pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Bush is essentially saying to China and India, the US will do nothing unless you do more. Leadership. Ain't it great.

This is simply a way of pushing the can down the road by taking leadership (not).

Still, out comes the usual garbage.

Logically coming out of an ice age, CO2 should lag initial warming driven by orbital changes. The warming increase CO2 by exposing ground, warming the oceans, etc. That CO2 then acts as a positive feedback increasing warming further.

You get the same positive warming if you simply dump a bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel.

The stuff about cosmic rays and the sun is simple crap. This drives a stake into it's heart and this shows it was crap to start with. Describing this stuff as crap is neither a rant, invective, substantial and repeated exaggeration, although perhaps somewhat of a departure from the topic of the thread. OTOH, it is truly crap.
5.31.2007 10:27pm
Henrik Mintis:
Bush's strategy might be very much in line with current conservative thought. First, in order to achieve the goals, as Avatar says above, we should invest in more nuclear energy. Capitalists have been begging for nuclear energy for years. Second, to moot Eli Rabett's completely unserious comment above, China and India are currently completely exempt from the Kyoto treaty, and conservatives have been demanding that India and China be at least as restrained as the US, especially considering that their economies are taking off quite handsomely. It is patently unfair to expect us to compete with India and China with this hand tied behind our back. Third, I may be mistaken, but I believe new multinational discussions on climate change are required in 2012 anyway, so at worst Bush is engaging in cost-free rhetoric while the clock on Kyoto ticks, while at best he is setting the groundwork for those future negotiations on his own terms. Bush's new strategy may well be exactly what conservatives have been waiting for.
5.31.2007 10:59pm
K:
NickM: The warm winter caused the biggest reduction, 3.7%, in residential.

Other sectors - commercial, transportation, industrial, etc. all had some decline. None rose. The worst recent spike was 2004 when a wild construction boom ran up figures for that sector.

We have no proof US emissions will continue going down. But the facts don't look all that dismal.

If the AGW people are correct then holding the line is not sufficient. We will need a significant long-term reduction.
That must be from cheap electricity made w/o carbon fuels.
5.31.2007 11:22pm
The General:
if Liberals would take a step back from their Bush hatred for just a minuted, they'd discover that he is pretty much a liberal on a lot of issues.
6.1.2007 12:21am
Andrew Okun:
if Liberals would take a step back from their Bush hatred for just a minuted, they'd discover that he is pretty much a liberal on a lot of issues.

I'd love to, but I don't think it's a sustainable point. Certainly it isn't on this issue. This guy took office in 2001. It's 2007 and now he makes speeches about how he's going to lead us forward by next year and that we'd best hold a global conference pretty darn soon. I'm not going to say it's all a charade, but based on his past performance, it sure could be. I'll believe him when he actually does something, not when he makes an announcement.
6.1.2007 3:29am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Sunspots and global temperature:

Sun spot number: correlation with global warming

the way out is

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

which shows promise. The Navy funding for this stopped in 2005 just as results started to look promising. Not a conspiracy. The Iraq war is eating up a LOT of promising technologies.

However, Cold Fusion did get funded.
6.1.2007 7:19am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Eli,

China is doing more.

By the end of this year their CO2 output will exceed that of the USA.
6.1.2007 7:23am
rhodeymark (mail):
Eli - fascinating. Since this topic is being mentioned in "Unthreaded #11" over at climateaudit.org, I am sure you won't hesitate to post this devastating link over there for scrutiny. I'm sorry, your protestations aside, the transparent glee which you exhibit in reporting physicists as full of cr@p is quite telling. Anyone who wants to see real, evacuated bowel scientists can of course visit the Fenton Communication mouthpiece, realclimate.org /snark

Furthermore, it is laughable that anyone who advocates for paleoclimate reconstructions would point to a study with supposedly flawed filtering, smoothing and padding. Did you sleep with your hockeystick last night?
6.1.2007 10:21am
whackjobbbb:
Well, that was a pretty good smackdown, rhodey, so I'll only comment on this eli statement:


Logically coming out of an ice age, CO2 should lag initial warming driven by orbital changes.


Not sure you're qualified to discuss this subject in this level of detail, eli, but here you appear to be acknowledging that CO2 levels historically LAG periods of global warming, which was the thrust of my post that you were commenting on.

If it lags, then why are we treating it as cause? That's the question that the chicken littles will have to delve into, now that serious people are opening up their cloistered little party.

By the way, did anybody get a chance to go skiing in Colorado on Memorial Day? I was busy, but I'm hoping to get lucky on the Fourth of July!
6.1.2007 10:49am
Justin (mail):
"if Liberals would take a step back from their Bush hatred for just a minuted, they'd discover that he is pretty much a liberal on a lot of issues."

Unfortuntaely, there's a huge difference between "not conservative" and "liberal." An overpriced prescription drug plan that doesn't lower prices, but instead is a large giveaway to drug companies and a waste of valuable government revenue, for instance, is neither.
6.1.2007 11:24am
Eli Rabett (www):
The difference, of course, between emerging from an ice age and forcing from fossil fuel burning is timing. But first, allow me to point out that the "lag" between the initial warming in ice ages and the increase in CO2, may not be much of a lag at all. Stoat points to a paper which says that the previously thought 800 year lag may be zero or CO2 may lead warming (you can also read the reviews).

However, many, and that includes me, think that if CO2 lead T coming out of an ice age, it would be pretty hard to understand. Nathan Rive put it pretty well
As a mental exercise, let's flip it around, and consider the alternative: what if over multi-million historical timescales, CO2 always led dT? Would that actually make things easier for the AGW case?

Probably not. Because if CO2 was sponaneously increasing and decreasing before dT went up and down, we'd have to figure out who was emitting/absorbing the CO2. Do we know of any natural mechanisms that would change CO2 on such scales without first involving dT? I'm assuming no - or at least not that I know of.

If that is the case, the CO2 must *always* lag dT in the absence of an artificial/anthropogenic emitter. Therefore, it can't be used as an argument against AGW.
For ice ages, the initial driver would be orbital changes.

As Wm. Connolley said
At this point, the s(k)eptics jump up and down and say, aha, but the T leads the CO2. To which the answer is, so what? The lead is small (on the scale of these things: maybe 800y) and hard to even measure (you certainly can't see it on the scale of that graph). We *know* it takes feedbacks between T and CO2 to create the ice age cycles, which because of their periodicity are presumed to have orbital forcing as their ultimate pacemaker.
As to Climate Audit, I usually have better things to do than abuse bags of wind.
6.2.2007 1:40am
whackjobbbb:

"...the CO2 must *always* lag dT..."


Again, you seem to be agreeing that CO2 lags temperature rise, and thus the current narrowly focused goreian passion to treat it as cause seems very misguided.

But we can explore this further, now that serious folk are involved in the debate.
6.2.2007 9:51am
whackjobbbb:
By the way, the paper you referenced seems also to support the CO2 lagging theory, and the 2 referee comments to that paper do not dispute this, and both recommended this paper be published in the "Climate of the Past" publication, as did that organization's editor. Was your "Stoat" fellow one of those referees, or the editor?
6.2.2007 10:10am