Bush to veto climate change bill that leaves out India, China

June 3rd, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 3 (IANS) President George W. Bush would veto climate change legislation to be considered by the US Senate this week because it does not seek action in concert with all major economies, including India and China, even if the Senate passes the bill. As the president said last April “there is a right way and a wrong way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” White House spokesperson Dana Perino said Monday, suggesting “the bill being debated on the floor this week in the Senate is the wrong way”.

Bush had then also laid out principles “for what he believes is the right way: investing in new technologies, setting realistic goals, emission-free nuclear power, and ensuring that we act in concert with statements by all major economies, including China and India”.

“As the legislation is drafted, if it were to pass in its current form, the president would veto it,” Perino said. But she added: “It’s very unlikely to pass the Senate anyway.”

“The proposed legislation if enacted would result in one of the largest costs ever imposed on Americans,” she said, explaining the Bush administration’s objections to the bill. “To put it simply, we believe it would cost way too much and achieve way too little.”

The bill before the Senate, which is not expected to become law this year ahead of the presidential election in November, could cut total US global warming emissions by 66 percent by 2050.

The proposed legislation “would be one of the largest costs ever imposed on the American people, and that is a debate that we need to have and people need to be aware of the costs”, Perino said.

In the meantime, what President Bush is doing through his negotiators is working with the major economies, she said, describing it as “one of the things President Bush has done that other leaders have not been able to do, but I think that they’re all grateful for his leadership on it”.

Bush had brought “the major economies of the world together, including India and China, to the table to talk about how do we set a midterm goal, and then how do we all achieve it”, Perino said.

“We’re not going to impose ways to get there on people, but we are going to insist that everyone comes to the table and that everyone be a part of it, unlike this current version, which would just harm our economy, cost our consumers, and not solve the problem,” she added.

The bill uses a “cap-and-trade” system wherein the government would cap the amount of pollution a company is allowed to emit - which would be lowered each year - but would also give companies some flexibility by allowing them to buy pollution credits from companies whose emissions fall below their caps.

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, support the measure. But presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain appeared poised to vote against the measure because, he says, it doesn’t do enough to boost the use of nuclear power.

McCain too favours a market-based “cap and trade” system, but like President Bush, he also wants a new global pact on climate change to include India and China, the “greatest contributors” to global warming.

“China, India and other developing economic powers in particular are among the greatest contributors to global warming today - increasing carbon emissions at a furious pace - and they are not receptive to international standards,” he said at a campaign rally last week.

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