Bush to work for industry emissions cuts in ‘08

19 December 2007 22:14  [Source: ICIS news]

Bali conference drew the eyes of the worldWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--President George Bush will work with Congress next year to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by industry but will emphasize incentives and technology rather than mandates, the top White House environment advisor said on Wednesday.


James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters that in the wake of the new UN climate conference agreement reached at Bali, Indonesia, over the weekend and Bush’s signature on a new US energy law today, “our focus now will be on emissions reductions among utilities and industry”.


Connaughton declined to say, however, whether Bush would veto any kind of emissions cap and trade provision that Congress might produce in the new year.


Earlier this month a US Senate panel approved a bill sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (Independent-Connecticut) and John Warner (Republican-Virginia) that would impose mandatory limits or caps on US industrial emissions of six greenhouse gases and auction emissions permits to companies in major industrial sectors, including chemicals.


Most chemical companies and a broad array of other manufacturers oppose mandatory emissions caps for industry and electric power utilities, arguing that such legislation would force massive fuel-switching from coal to natural gas and drive gas prices much higher.


The US chemicals industry is heavily dependent on natgas as a feedstock.


Connaughton said the so-called “Bali roadmap” that the US agreed to with other UN member nations in Bali last Sunday is significant in that for the first time major developing nations such as India, Brazil and China have agreed to participate in national emissions control programmes that are “measurable, reportable and verifiable”.


“The failure of the Kyoto agreement was that it did not have participation by developing countries,” Connaughton said.


Asked whether Bush would veto a cap and trade bill similar to the Warner-Lieberman measure if passed by Congress next year, Connaughton said:  “Congress has been debating climate control since the mid-1990s, and now with the energy bill done and with new automobile mileage standards and a much higher alternative fuels mandate taken care of, our focus now will be on emissions reductions among utilities and industry.”


“In light of the energy bill that the president signed today, Congress will have to regroup, and I’m sure there will be a lot of work next year on power generation,” he said.


“President Bush will be an active participant with Congress in those discussions, but there is nothing specific I can say now beyond that point,” Connaughton said.


However, he added, the Bush administration’s policy in discussing mid-term emissions goals in the context of the Bali roadmap will focus on “national goals that will include incentives and technology development and measures that will be effective and economically sound”.


The Bali roadmap sets a broad agenda for UN members to work out details of an international emissions reduction plan to succeed the Kyoto climate treaty when it expires in 2012.

By: Joe Kamalick
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