Bush Makes Mistake on CO2



On March 13, President Bush reversed a campaign pledge, saying his administration would not seek to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Scientists say that carbon dioxide is a key contributor to global warming.

Following are comments from Worldwatch President, Christopher Flavin regarding the Bush Administration's turn around on this important environmental issue.


"Yesterday's decision suggests that the U.S. is missing an opportunity to exert forceful leadership on one of the most serious environmental threats facing humanity in the 21st century. Contrary to President Bush's statement, carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant. Unlike the other regulated air pollutants, carbon dioxide will stay in the atmosphere for centuries, affecting the health and well being of generations to come.

Constraining U.S. emissions is essential if the world is to avoid climate change. The U.S. accounts for one-quarter of global CO2 emissions, but more remarkably, accounts for nearly half of the increase in emissions between 1990 and 2000--exceeding the combined emissions growth of all of China, India, Africa, and Latin America.

Limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants is essential since they are one of the main reasons for the recent sharp increase in U.S. CO2 emissions. It is remarkable that in the past few years, as China's coal-burning has declined sharply, U.S. coal combustion is rising. In the last two years, we have passed China to be the world's number one coal burner.

If the emissions trading envisioned under the Kyoto protocol is to work, it is essential that it begin at home, under the kind of cap for large polluters initiative that the U.S. president has just vetoed. This decision is a large setback for the entire negotiating process.

Outside the United States, many countries are moving rapidly to pursue a new generation of 21st century energy technologies such as fuel cells, wind turbines, and solar electric generators. The attempt by the Bush administration to return to reliance on coal, a dirty fuel that is a relic of the 19th century would be a costly economic mistake."

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Leanne Mitchell, Public Relations Specialist.  Email: lmitchell@worldwatch.org

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