Americans favor emissions reduction
By K. I. Marshall
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Published July 5, 2005
A recent poll reports most Americans would support
U.S. involvement in greenhouse gas reduction agreements,
one of the items to be discussed this week at the
Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
The poll, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge
Networks, found 86 percent of Americans believe President Bush should be willing
to act to limit greenhouse gas emissions if the other nations in the G8 - Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia -- do so.
I think there is much greater awareness among the public that global warming
is an issue, that it is man-made,
and that it does require action," said Annie Petsonk, International Counsel with
the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair has stressed global poverty and climate change
as two of his areas of focus for the G8 summit. In an interview with ITV released
Tuesday, Bush said the United States was embracing talks on climate change but
would not automatically sign on to any global climate change policy to come out
of the G8 meetings.
I believe (climate change) is a significant, long-term issue that we've got to
deal with," said Bush. "That's why my government is dealing with it. We spent
over $20 billion since I've been the president to not only research the issue
of greenhouse gases, but to develop technologies that will enable us to diversify
away from fossil fuels. And I look forward to discussing this agenda with not
only the G8 leaders, but also with the leaders of developing countries, countries
like India and China."
Bush acknowledged that humans may play a role in global warming but stresses
technological innovation over emissions caps. When asked if global warming is
a man-made phenomenon,
he responded, "To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels
create greenhouse gases, we're burning fossil fuel, as are a lot
of other countries."
The voluntary U.S. Global Climate Change Policy calls for an 18 percent reduction
in emissions per unit of economic activity in the next 10 years and offers tax
There is no indication that tax credits
reduce total U.S. carbon emissions," said Petsonk, who said mandatory caps are
needed to reduce total emission. "Bush has called carbon caps as being 'Kyoto-lite',
while he has proposed the same caps for other
Ben Lieberman, senior policy analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation,
disagreed. "The Global Climate Change Policy is a better approach than Kyoto,
especially since it is voluntary, and is based on carbon intensity, which is
a better model
than carbon caps," he said.
Twenty-four percent of those polled believe the United States is already doing
more than average to limit greenhouse gases, 44 percent believed the United States
is doing the average, and 27 percent feel it is doing less than average, when
compared with other developed countries.
Bush said if the G8 talks resulted in policy that would restrict U.S. economic
freedom, he would be against
If this looks like Kyoto, the answer is
'no.'," said Bush when asked if he would support a binding international agreement
on climate change. "My hope is -- and I think the hope of Tony Blair is -- to
move beyond the Kyoto debate and to collaborate on new technologies that will
enable the United States and other countries to diversify away from fossil fuels
so that the air will be cleaner and that we have the economic and national security
that comes from less dependence on foreign sources of oil."
The United States is the only nation represented in the G8 that has not signed
on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that calls for industrialized nations to reduce
their collective emissions levels 5 percent relative to 1990 by 2012. The poll
found that 73 percent of Americans believe the United States should participate
in the Kyoto Protocol, while 43 percent erroneously believe that President Bush
favors the Protocol.
Bush defended U.S. rejection of the Kyoto
Protocol, saying, "the Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can
I walked away from Kyoto because it would damage America's economy, you bet.
It would have destroyed our
economy," he went on to say.
If you look at the European countries that signed on to Kyoto, they are having
difficulty complying with the
requirements," said Lieberman. He went on to that the Kyoto Protocol's 1990 emissions
limit was unfair. "The 1990 levels favor certain countries. Germany was just
taking in the heavily polluting East German economy while the United Kingdom
was still switching from coal to
natural gas and oil," he said.
Kyoto is a stretch, and it needs to be in
order to be effective," said Petsonk. "Considering that Kyoto came into effect
in February and the date for compliance is 2012, it is a bit premature to say
that countries will not be able to comply."
The poll found 71 percent of respondents believe the U.S. economy will be made
more competitive in the long run because of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases
while 23 percent said the
U.S. economy would be hurt by efforts to reduce emissions.
Along with Kyoto, the Europeans created a mandatory market-based framework to
encourage emissions reduction that
is also stimulating innovation," said Petsonk. "The United States needs to get
in to mandatory, market-based limits to remain competitive." "I think you can
grow your economy and at the same time do a better job of harnessing greenhouse
gases," said Bush. "That's exactly what I intend to talk to our partners about.
I don't think you can expect any American leader to wreck the economy, nor as
an ally and a friend of America and a trading partner of America should you want
us to wreck
Twenty-one percent of those polled responded the U.S. should not take steps to
reduce global emissions that would have economic costs unless global warming
was an assured problem, while 42 percent believe global warming should be addressed
but its effects would be gradual and could be countered with low cost measures;
and 34 percent believe global warming is a serious problem that requires immediate
steps even at significant cost.
The margin of error was 3.5 percent.
Lieberman said that Bush will not agree to any binding climate change agreements
at the G8 summit, especially after the rejection of the McCain-Lieberman amendment
to the Energy Bill. The amendment which called for a cap on emissions at the
year 2000 by 2010 was originally a stand-alone bill that failed to pass and was
rejected by a vote of 38-60.
Congress is pretty adamantly opposed to binding carbon caps. (Bush) would not
want to undercut his position, seeing as how it is something that Congress agrees
with," he said.
Despite rejection of the amendment and the
previous bill, Petsonk points to the "sense of the Senate" resolution on climate
change, which passed immediately after rejection of the
In the resolution, the Senate recognizes, "that Congress should enact a comprehensive
and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives
on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such