Bush reaffirms Kyoto opposition

Published August 1, 2001

Armed with the National Academy of Sciences’ just-released study of climate change science, President George W. Bush began to lobby Europe on revisions to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Bush noted that “developing nations” with nearly half the world’s population, including the two most populous nations (China and India), are free to increase greenhouse gas emissions as much as they want under Kyoto. China is already the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases.

“We recognize our responsibility to reduce our admissions,” Bush stated. “We also recognize the other part of the story–that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases and many of those emissions are from developing countries.”

While pressing for a more uniform application of emissions reduction requirements, Bush announced his support for unilateral measures on the part of the U.S. to increase scientific understanding of climate change. Bush called for greater funding of climate research and increased cooperation between U.S. and international researchers. He also stated he would support programs to develop new technologies to reduce greenhouse gases in transportation and industrial production.

Bush’s advocacy of such unilateral measures had little initial effect on opinion in Western Europe, where the nations’ leaders object to U.S. insistence on weighing mitigating factors in each nation’s greenhouse emissions goals. For example, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are partially or possibly entirely negated by extensive forests and farms that capture greenhouse gases. Western Europe contains far fewer such carbon “sinks.”