President George W. Bush will contribute $2 billion to an international fund designed to speed the development and deployment of clean energy technologies but only if "every major economy" contributes too, according to Reuters.
The State of the Union announcement will come on the eve of a meeting in Hawaii of major polluters, which Bush organized despite criticism that it will hijack the United Nations' ongoing discussions of a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement to combat global warming.
Despite pledging during his campaign for president to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gas pollution, Bush has steadfastly shunned international and national benchmarks that are anything but voluntary and which, by the calculations of international scientists working with the U.N., will fall far short of the reductions needed to avoid catastrophic changes to the climate.
Bush's latest announcement is in the right direction. The widespread use of clean and renewable energy sources, and the phasing out of coal and oil, are important steps that need to be taken. And an international framework that encourages fast-growing developing nations to invest in clean energy sources developed by industrialized nations is key.
The $2 billion over three years, however, continues the Bush climate doctrine of shirking bold leadership.
President Bushs final-year agenda will likely cement his environmental legacy as the worst of any president in history," said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of Earth, which endorsed Democrat John Edwards for U.S. president. "The president reportedly plans to announce tonight that he wants to spend his final year in office promoting the same dirty energy sources that led to the global warming problem in the first place. Instead of bold solutions, the president is offering false solutions coal, oil and nuclear power guaranteeing his lame duck status. In the mean time, our planet moves closer to a global warming tipping point every day a tipping point that, if passed, would spell disaster."
At this point, transformative action on energy and the climate will most likely come from the next president.
In that regard, voters are seeing much more clear choices. Democrats have pledged to spend on the order of $50 billion on strategies that would revolutionize our use of energy. Republicans, too, have been sparring over climate policy lately, with Mitt Romney attacking John McCain for his leading edge support of a cap-and-trade regulation for limiting greenhouse gas pollution. McCain is alone among Republicans when it comes to supporting, and leading, on that issue. Neither Romney nor any of the other Republicans has pledged to set any specific goals relative to reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Not that, as Bush proved, every campaign promise is truthful.
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