Bush Reverses Climate Policy

Bush Reverses Climate Policy

President George W. Bush set a new national goal of stopping the rise of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 2025.

In a speech on Wednesday that acknowledged the risks posed by climate change, the president also signaled his belief that stopping the growth of emissions can be done without mandatory caps, the same position he has held since taking office in 2001.

Shortly after becoming president, Bush broke a campaign promise and refused to follow the Kyoto Treaty agreed upon during the previous administration based on the belief that it negatively impact the economy.

The speech was delivered from the Rose Garden the day before world leaders meet in Paris to discuss climate change and set an agenda for the July G-8 summit in Japan. Bush credited his policies for slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and said the emissions of the power sector would have to begin their decline within 10 to 15 years to meet the 2025 deadline.

Bush said his approach would head off a regulatory nightmare where old laws meant to address specific environmental challenges are now being used to fight climate change. California and other states, for instance, are embroiled in a legal fight with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

"If these laws are stretched beyond their original intent, they could override the programs Congress just adopted, and force the government to regulate more than just power plant emissions ... Decisions with such far-reaching impact should not be left to unelected regulators and judges," Bush said.

Although the speech marks a reversal of Bush's previous policy stance that often questioned the science behind grim global warming predictions, it fell short of the aggressive actions being called for by environmentalists, scientists and some members of Congress. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions but must reduced by 50 percent to 80 percent by 2050, scientists have warned.

"What the President is proposing is too little too late, putting us on track for a climate disaster," said Richard Moss, vice president and managing director of climate change for the World Wildlife Fund. "Halting the growth of emissions by 2025 is woefully inadequate ... It is time to look beyond this president and focus on the steps his successor will take to address the climate.

With just nine months remaining in office, many are looking beyond Bush to the three presidential candidates, all of whom have signaled their support for a mandatory cap-and-trade system.