Bush, the Environmental President

It seems that President Bush is keen to find a legacy other than “left us a mess in Iraq”. He tried for peace in the Middle East, but instead was trumped by aforementioned mess in Iraq. He made a historic, for him, trip to Africa. People seemed to like him there, they really liked him. But the press didn’t seem to care. He threw out the first pitch at the new Nationals stadium, perhaps to leave us all with the distinct impression that he would rather have been commissioner of baseball all these years. I love baseball, but I would have preferred that, too. It is interesting to note that he threw that pitch in the first built green baseball stadium in the country. Perhaps that got the wheels spinning. After all, if this is the direction baseball is going, why not the country? So on Wednesday he proposed that the U.S. curb greenhouse gas emissions growth by 2025. Wow, that sounds pretty aggressive for a guy that until recently didn’t believe that climate change was real.

But wait a minute, didn’t Congress and a number of States like California have more aggressive proposals on curbing greenhouse gas emissions? In fact, didn’t the White House in 2002 set a policy for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 2012? And isn’t Congress and the international community discussing much more immediate changes? So what is with the 2025 deadline? Could it be that this administration is all talk and no action on climate change? Perhaps it is even worse than that. In fact, The Sydney Morning Herald called the announcement irrelevant.


In addition to the elongated deadline, the President set out his policy on curbing climate change during a speech which Salon describes as taking a defensive and put upon tone. The plan is to develop new technologies (read as biofuels, biofuels, biofuels), continue to push nuclear power and “clean” coal, avoid anything that might be economically harmful (to the fossil fuel energy companies) like mandatory caps on emissions -- though he did mention something about “carbon weighting” in a bit of rhetorical jujitsu -- and avoid regulations, because they can be so messy. This last bit should be no surprise as the existing regulatory bodies don’t even want to regulate. In fact the EPA has again told Americans not to expect any action on climate change out of their department, despite orders from the Supreme Court to the contrary.

U.S. representatives to the Paris talks on climate change this week are sure to be lambasted by European participants as these ideas fall far short of what most nations are willing to do. In fact, cynics might say that Bush was trying to pre-empt any initiatives coming out of Paris. However, like the Australians, many throughout Europe and Asia see Bush as irrelevant to any substantive discussion on climate. Democrat Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming summed it up this way:

By the time President Bush's plan finally starts to cut global warming emissions, the planet will already be cooked. The President's short-term goal is to do nothing, his medium-term goal is to do nothing much, and his long-term goal is to do nothing close to what's needed to save the planet from global warming. -- Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming


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  • Posted on April 17, 2008. Listed in:

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