Bush reneges on more global warming aid


WASHINGTON, AP

President George W. Bush, after faulting the Kyoto climate treaty for excluding developing nations from its requirements, wants to cut U.S. aid that helps Third World countries combat global warming.

While asking Congress for nearly US$4 billion to address climate change, roughly the same as last year, Bush proposes reducing assistance to other countries by US$41 million from last year’s US$165 million. He calls for shifting more responsibility to private industry.

The figures are contained in a June 29 report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, that Bush sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the Senate president pro tem.

The White House declined to discuss the report on the record on Friday.

One senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, disputed that the numbers reflected a cut and said they were part of a previously planned reduction for the final year of a five-year international aid plan.

The 52-page report provides the first public look at an inventory of Bush spending on climate change.

The issue, along with Bush’s related energy policies, has become increasingly prominent with Bush’s reversal of a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide pollution and his rejection of the 1997 Kyoto accord that has been broadly supported but not ratified by any U.S. allies in Europe.

Much of Bush’s climate change budget amounts to shifting about US$400 million toward areas such as burning coal more cleanly, insulating homes to use less energy and giving tax credits for electricity produced from wind and less polluting agricultural waste.

Europeans have been unhappy with Bush’s condemnation of the Kyoto agreement, which commits industrialized countries to reduce emissions such as carbon dioxide that are believed to trap heat in the atmosphere, warming it like a greenhouse.

Just before heading to Europe, Bush told reporters on June 11 the United States should help reduce heat-trapping pollution from Third World countries. “We want to work cooperatively with these countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and maintain economic growth,” he said.

However, his budget would reduce money for programs intended to assist countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine increase their industrial development with only minimal contributions to global warming.

In his report, Bush says several U.S.-backed projects are ready to be privatized. Those include projects creating more efficient lighting in Mexico and wind power in India, using agricultural waste as fuel for electric power and heat in Brazil and expanded coal-bed methane recovery in mainland China.

“Some programs were reduced to eliminate unrequested earmarks or certain projects approaching commercialization that are more properly funded by the private sector,” Bush’s report says. “Other higher priority programs were increased.”

Critics say the report hurts Bush’s credibility.

“The president has said he wants to be a leader on global warming and instead he’s not only undermined the Kyoto agreement but slashed the programs he’s telling the public are important to him. That’s not leadership — that’s a sham,” said Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

Bush also proposes:

— US$1.1 billion in energy tax credits over 10 years for solar and renewable energy sources to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

— Federal environmental regulators in 2002 “will demonstrate technology for an 85-mile-per-gallon, mid size family sedan that has low emissions and is safe, practical and affordable.”

— Cutting NASA’s climate change research by US$90 million, or almost 8 percent from last year’s US$1.2 billion.