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President Bush speaks during an energy and climate change meeting at the U.S. State Department on Friday.
President Bush speaks during an energy and climate change meeting at the U.S. State Department on Friday. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
President Bush said Friday the United States and the rest of the world's worst polluters should work together to set a goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that have triggered a global increase in temperature.
The president said each nation should establish for itself what methods it will use to rein in the pollution problem without stunting economic growth.
"By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem, and by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it," Bush said in a speech that capped two days of talks at a White House-sponsored climate change conference. "We share a common responsibility: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping our economies growing."
Representatives from 16 nations, including big polluters from the developing world China and India attended, as did the European Union and United Nations.
Bush's emphasis is on using environmentally friendly technologies and other voluntary efforts to tackle global warming. The president said the reduction goal should be finalized by next summer, along with ways to measure progress toward it.
He also proposed the creation of an international fund to finance research into clean-energy technology, announcing that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would coordinate the effort and would be in touch with other governments soon about moving forward.
"Each nation must decide for itself the right mix of tools and technology to achieve results that are measurable and environmentally effective," Bush said.
In his speech, Bush acknowledged that climate change is real and that human activity is a factor.
But he refuses to sign onto mandatory emission-reduction obligations, preferring to encourage the development of new technologies and other voluntary measures, and won't participate in any talks toward a global agreement that do not include energy guzzlers from the developing world.
As a result, many have suggested that the U.S.-brokered process is aimed at undermining broader talks sponsored by the United Nations, set to begin in Indonesia in December, to draw up a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. That U.N. treaty was rejected by the administration because, Bush said, it unfairly harmed the economies of rich nations like the United States while excluding poorer countries like China and India from obligations.
The U.N. negotiations emphasize mandatory controls.