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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It's a Gas

Hot Air

The G8 summit takes place this week in Scotland and what to do about global warming and greenhouse gases will be on the agenda.

Sadly, based on this transcript in the Guardian of an interview from Tonight with Trevor McDonald with President Bush, the result is a foregone conclusion:

TONIGHT: The subject of climate change is one of the subjects on the G8 agenda. Now, the majority of the world's leading scientists now agree that climate change is a reality. Do you agree with their conclusion?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I believe it is a significant, long-term issue that we've got to deal with. And that's why my government is dealing with it. We spent I think 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.

TONIGHT: Do you accept that climate change is man-made, sir?

PRESIDENT BUSH: To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, we're burning fossil fuel, as is a lot of other countries. You know, look, there was a debate over Kyoto, and I made the decision - as did a lot of other people in this country, by the way - that the Kyoto treaty didn't suit our needs. In other words, the Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can be blunt.

And so 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.... To that end, we're investing in a lot of hydrogen - research on hydrogen-powered automobiles. I believe we'll be able to burn coal without emitting any greenhouse gases, zero emissions plant.

And so, therefore, we've got to spend money and share technology as to how to move forward.

TONIGHT: But Mr President, if I may, the predictions about global warming - and I hear what you say - are very dire. The UK's chief scientist says that it probably poses a bigger threat than global terrorism. Isn't it, therefore, irresponsible for you to say, as you've done, that you walked away from Kyoto and you won't order cuts in carbon dioxide emissions because it would damage America's economy?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I walked away from Kyoto because it would damage America's economy, you bet. It would have destroyed our economy. It was a lousy deal for the American economy. I felt there was a better way. And that's why --

TONIGHT [interrupting]: But is that putting American industrial economic interests above the global interests of the environment?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I think you can do both. See, I think you can grow your economy and at the same time do a better job of harnessing greenhouse gases. 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 our economy.

On the other hand, what you would want us to do is to use our investment capacity, as well as our research capacity to come up with new ways to power our economy, new ways to energise our economy. And that's precisely what we're doing, and I look forward to sharing those ideas.

Secondly, the Kyoto treaty wouldn't work unless all nations were involved. And as you know, many of the developing nations weren't involved in Kyoto. So some of the discussions we're going to have at the G8, thanks to Tony Blair's leadership, is to work with India and China as to how to share technology with them, so that we can all work together to clean up the environment, and at the same time have sustained economic growth.

TONIGHT: They are expecting, many countries are expecting international legal binding agreements on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Can they expect your support in doing that?

PRESIDENT BUSH: If this looks like Kyoto, the answer is no. On the other hand, if people want to come together and share technologies and develop technologies and jointly spend - and spend money on research and development, just like the United States is, to help us diversify away from fossil fuels, [I am] more than willing to discuss it.

I know we need more nuclear power in order - nuclear power, after all, is not dependent on fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. I believe we're going to be able to have coal-fired plants that have zero emissions. We need to work on carbon sequestration technologies. I mean, there's a lot we can do together and achieve the objective, which a lot of people want, which is the reduction of greenhouse gases, and at the same time, have viable economic growth.

TONIGHT: And because, sir, America remains the biggest polluter.

PRESIDENT BUSH: America is the largest investor in the technologies necessary to be able to say to people, 'You can grow your economy so people's standard of living can improve, and at the same time be good stewards of the environment'.

TONIGHT: But pollution in this country has increased amazingly since 1992.

PRESIDENT BUSH: That is a totally inaccurate statement.

TONIGHT: It's a UN figure.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I just beg to differ with every figure you've got. The environment has - the quality of the environment has improved, in spite of the fact that we've grown our economy.


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