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. Bush Pushes New Climate Change Plan

US President George W. Bush. Photo courtesy AFP.

Economy first, environment second for India: GE's Immelt
New Delhi (AFP) May 31 - India should make economic growth rather than the environment its top priority, the head of US firm General Electric said Thursday. "If I were in India I would focus on growth first and environment second. I don't think you have the luxury to do both right now," said GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt in New Delhi. The comments came ahead of the G8 summit of industrialised nations in Germany, where global warming is expected to be discussed. Both India and China argue a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions could hold back their economies. "It's a way to protect the status quo in the developed world," said Immelt. The US is currently the world's biggest producer of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, but it has yet to commit to making emission cuts. China is in second place and India is the world's fourth biggest emitter.
by Olivier Knox
Washington (AFP) May 31, 2007
US President George W. Bush said Thursday he would urge major industrialized nations at a summit next week to join a new global framework for fighting climate change after the Kyoto Protocol lapses. Environmental groups immediately criticized the plan as vague and based on non-binding limits on the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, but Britain and Germany hailed the move as an important, if symbolic, step forward.

"The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012," Bush said in a speech laying out his agenda for the June 6-8 G8 summit in Germany.

Bush, weighed down by the Iraq war and facing European criticisms over the US approach to global warming, also urged rich countries to eliminate barriers poor countries face to getting new environment-friendly technologies by 2008.

"If you're truly committed to helping the environment, nations need to get rid of their tariffs, need to get rid of those barriers that prevent new technologies from coming into their countries," he said.

Bush's initiative may deepen a dispute with Germany, the current G8 president, which seeks a strong resolution on fighting climate change at the summit and which wants to bring as many nations as possible to the table.

"My proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases" in consultation with major greenhouse gas-producing nations, including fast-growing India and China, and industry leaders, over the next 18 months, Bush said.

Countries would also set "mid-term national targets and programs" depending on "their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs," he said, adding that there would be a "strong and transparent" method to assess progress in reaching the non-binding targets.

"It's important to assure that we get results," said Bush, who made the initiative a key goal of his talks next week with leaders from Europe, where critics have accused Washington of dragging its feet on climate change.

The US president said he would push G8 leaders to boost investment in research and development of environment-friendly technologies, and would help poor countries acquire such cutting-edge science by cutting tariffs and other barriers by year's end.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Bush's proposal showed he believed global warming to be "a real problem now" and that Washington had to "offer real leadership" in solving the problem.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the initiative "an important statement" but gave no sign of backing off efforts to get G8 leaders to back a draft declaration on climate change over fierce US opposition.

The text calls for a commitment to cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Environmental groups were less kind, with the Natural Resources Defense Council's top climate expert, David Doniger, warning that "it's too late to slide by on vague calls for unenforceable long-term goals."

"The president will have no credibility with the countries he wants to bring to the table unless he is committed to specific limits to cap and cut our own global warming pollution," he said.

And Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped the proposal marked "the beginning of a reversal of the administration's untenable and unwise position on global warming and not a public-relations stunt to defuse criticism going into the G-8 discussions in Germany."

The 35 industrialized nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol are required to make targeted cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), by 2012.

The United States, the world's number one emitter of greenhouse gases, has signed but refused ratify the protocol, saying that China and India's exemptions from its goals make the pact meaningless.

Those rising economic powers signaled this week that they were not ready to accept binding targets on cutting emissions in the post-Kyoto era either.

UN negotiations on a new protocol on climate change will begin in earnest at a conference in Bali in December.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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EON To Halve Carbon Emissions By 2030
Duesseldorf (AFP) Germany, May 31, 2007
E.ON, the biggest power supplier in Germany, plans to reduce its carbon emissions to half of their 1990 levels by 2030, chief executive Wulf Bernotat said on Thursday. "Our ambitious target is to reduce our CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions to roughly 0.36 tonnes per megawatt-hour by 2030, 50 percent less than in 1990," Bernotat said.

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