Bush details studies on global warming


U.S. President George W. Bush said on Friday his administration will invest tens of millions of U.S. dollars in studies to see how best to fight global warming.

Just days before an international conference on the Kyoto pact on global climate change — which Bush has rejected as “fatally flawed” — the White House said it was moving forward on studies to see how best to reduce greenhouse gases.

Bush said in a statement that NASA will invest more than US$120 million over the next three years in research on the natural carbon cycle, climate modeling and the link between atmospheric chemistry and climate.

The U.S. Department of Energy has signed agreements for two other projects to study programs that can absorb carbon, known as “carbon sequestration.”

The first agreement is with the Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest private international conservation group, to study land use and forestry practices for storing carbon more effectively in Brazil and Belize.

The second is with a group of international energy companies — BP-Amoco, Royal Dutch/Shell, Chevron and Texaco; PanCanadian and Suncor Energy of Canada, ENI of Italy, Statoil Forskningssenter and Norsk Hydro of Norway.

That group will help develop a new set of technologies for reducing the cost of capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion plants.

Grants for six other sequestration research projects have also been awarded under the US$25 million initiative that Bush said leverages an additional US$50 million from the private sector and foreign governments.

The Department of the Treasury also entered into a US$14 million “debt for forest” agreement with El Salvador under the tropical Forest Conservation Act, Bush said.

He said the U.S. Department of Commerce is bringing together more than 100 scientists from the United States, Mexico and South America to study the regional impacts of climate change.

The U.N. climate change convention set a nonbinding and unrealized goal of stabilizing emissions of greenhouse gases at 1990 levels by 2000. The Kyoto protocol, a follow-up to that, committed developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, signed the 1997 Kyoto agreement, but Bush pulled out of the accord before it was ratified by the Senate. He said it would damage the U.S. economy and was unfair because it did not set targets for cutting emissions by developing countries like China and India, two potentially large emitters.

Bush said last month the 1997 Kyoto agreement was “fatally flawed” but he added that his administration was committed to developing an effective, science-based response to the issue of global warming.

He said he would boost U.S. spending on research and development to fight global warming and work to find an international solution to the problem.

The initiatives announced on Friday represent the first step in that effort, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

But the White House has not yet formulated an alternative strategy to the rejected Kyoto protocol.

When asked about criticism that Bush rejected the Kyoto accord without providing an alternative, a senior administration official said it was important to fully understand the science of the issue before deciding on a policy to deal with it.

“We’re doing it deliberately and thoroughly,” he said. “This is a very complicated issue. … In this next phase we will be undertaking more consultations … to gather more input and ideas and again look at these range of policies.”