Earlier this year, President George W. Bush believed that, because of scientific uncertainties, global warming may not be a real problem, and he rejected the Kyoto Protocol. After receiving a National Academy of Sciences report, the president now accepts that global warming is real, but he still rejects the Kyoto treaty.

In March, when asked about the Kyoto Protocol, Bush told reporters, “We’ll be working with our allies to reduce greenhouse gases, but I will not accept a plan that will harm our economy and hurt American workers.”

He contended that more research was needed into the causes of climate change before governments could decide on appropriate solutions.

In a letter to Senate Republican leaders, Bush stated that he opposed the protocol “because it exempts 80 percent of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance.” And he again said that it would harm the economy.

The president then asked the National Academy of Sciences to prepare a report on the global warming issue. A committee, made up of 11 of the country’s top climate scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner, summed up science’s current understanding of climate change.

“We know that greenhouse gases are accumulating in earth’s atmosphere, causing surface temperatures to rise,” said Ralph Cicerone, committee chairman and chancellor of the University of California at Irvine. “We don’t know precisely how much of this rise to date is from human activities, but based on physical principles and highly sophisticated computer models, we expect the warming to continue because of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The committee’s computer models indicate that average global surface temperatures will rise between 2.5° and 10.4°F (1.4° and 5.8°C) by the end of the century.

After the administration received the report in early June, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer then indicated a change of direction for Bush when he said at a press briefing, “The president has directed his cabinet secretaries to begin a review so we can, as a nation, address a serious problem, which is global warming. That cabinet-level review is underway, and the president looks forward to receiving the results.”

In remarks before departing on his first visit to Europe as president, Bush stated, “My administration is committed to a leadership role on the issue of climate change.” He added, “We recognize a responsibility to reduce our emissions.” But although he now accepts global warming as a problem, he again rejected the Kyoto Protocol.

“Kyoto is in many ways unrealistic. Many countries cannot meet their Kyoto targets. The targets themselves are arbitrary and not based upon science.” Because of its “flaws,” said Bush, “Most reasonable people will understand that it’s not sound public policy.”

Bush said he would increase research into global warming and the technologies needed to halt it. He also promised to work within the 1992 United Nations framework on climate change.

In addition, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration is now revising its national energy policy to address global warming.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has cited four new studies that contradict the United Nations’ global warming findings. See the story, “CEI Says Studies Dispute Global Warming Findings” on our website at www.achrnews.com.

Publication date: 06/18/2001