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 Home > News & Policies > February 2007

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2007

Open Letter on the President's Position on Climate Change

Following last Friday’s release of a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a number of media reports perpetuated inaccuracies that the President’s concern about climate change is new. In fact, climate change has been a top priority since the President’s first year in office.

Beginning in June 2001, President Bush has consistently acknowledged climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to the problem. Consider the following statements by the President:

  • “First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming…There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming…And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity.” – June 11, 2001
  • “My Administration is committed to cutting our Nation's greenhouse gas intensity…by
    18 percent over the next 10 years. This will set America on a path to slow the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions and, as science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of emissions.” – February 14, 2002
  • “America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil….they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.” – January 23, 2007

President Bush committed the United States to continued leadership on the issue and since 2001 has dedicated nearly $29 billion to advance climate-related science, technology, international assistance, and incentive programs. This is far more than any other nation. Since 2002, the Administration has spent more than $9 billion of this amount on climate change research and, under his direction, agencies developed a 10-year strategic research plan for climate science that was endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences. Further, federally funded scientists have conducted an abundance of research, published their findings in peer reviewed papers and journals and talked with colleagues, policymakers, and media around the world about their findings.

The President is firmly committed to taking sensible action on climate change that will, as the President said in 2002, “harness the power of markets, the creativity of entrepreneurs, and draw upon the best scientific research.” He also has set ambitious goals. In 2002, he announced plans to cut our Nation's greenhouse gas intensity -- how much we emit per unit of economic activity -- by 18 percent by 2012.

Between 2003 and 2006, the President committed nearly $3 billion annually–more than any other country in the world – to climate change technology research and deployment programs. His administration is carrying out dozens of federal programs, including partnerships, consumer information campaigns, incentives, and mandatory regulations. These programs are directed at developing and deploying cleaner, more efficient energy technologies, conservation, biological sequestration, geological sequestration and adaptation. The U.S. is also the global leader in promoting the production and use of biofuels – consuming more than any other nation last year – and commercial deployment of highly efficient advanced coal technology – moving forward with a multi-billion dollar private sector commitment to build nine projects in nine states, qualifying for a billion dollars in new tax incentives, with more on the way this year.

Our unparalleled financial commitment and responsible policies are working, and we are on track to meet the President’s goal. Our emissions performance since 2000 is among the best in the world. According to the International Energy Agency, from 2000-2004, as our population increased and our economy grew by nearly 10%, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions increased by only 1.7%. During the same period, European Union carbon dioxide emissions grew by 5%, with lower economic growth.

Internationally, the President is working closely with his G-8 counterparts and other key world leaders to address the serious, long-term challenge of global climate change, recognizing that energy security, clean energy, and climate change go hand in hand and must be tackled in an integrated manner. Since 2001, the U.S. has established 15 bilateral climate partnerships with countries and regional organizations. In addition, there are multiple multilateral climate change initiatives. Among the most notable efforts is the recently established Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which is a proactive approach to engage developing countries like India and China, which do not have targets under the Kyoto protocol.

This year the President once again made clear in his State of the Union Address his commitment to confronting climate change. The policies he has in place, coupled with his bold energy initiative to cut gasoline consumption by 20% in 10 years, will continue to yield results. The President has been, and will continue to be, an international leader on climate change by, in his words, “advancing new technologies that will enable us to do two things – strengthen our economy, and at the same time, be better stewards of the environment.”

James L. Connaughton
Council on Environmental Quality
John H. Marburger, III
Office of Science Technology Policy