But Democrats in congress and environmentalists said the broad principles he outlined fell short of what is required to reduce emissions.

'A joke'


Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, called Bush's new climate strategy "worse than doing nothing".

 

"If it's true that the president's proposal would allow increases in the nation's global warming pollution for the next 17 years, then it's not a plan, it's a joke," she said.
 

Bush gave the energy sector 15 years to put
the brakes on carbon emissions [AFP]
John Kerry, the Democratic senator Bush defeated in the 2004 elections, said "if this is President Bush's idea of 20/20 vision, he needs to get his eyes checked'.

 

He called the new White House climate initiative "late, insufficient and insincere".

 

Environmentalists said the energy department's forecasts shows that even with advances encompassed in energy legislation approved last year, US carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by about 10 per cent by 2025.

 

Jon Coifman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defence Council, said Bush's proposal was an attempt "to reverse the progress" in congress, state legislatures and many big corporations.

 

"Without a concrete cap, a limit on global warming pollution we think it's going to be very difficult to see any real progress," he said.

 

"It's hard to see how the president's proposal today does anything to move this debate anywhere but backwards."
 
Economic factors
 
Bush is worried that the US congress will pass climate legislation that would hurt economic growth.

 

His proposal, aimed at influencing a forthcoming debate on mandatory carbon dioxide rules in June, rejects new taxes, abandoning nuclear power and adopting trade barriers.

 

Coal-burning power plants - the biggest single source of US carbon dioxide emissions – were singled out to stabilise carbon dioxide pollution within 15 years, followed by a reduction.

 

"We'll reduce emissions in the power sector well below what they were projected to be when we first announced our climate strategy in 2002," Bush said.

 

"We're doing a lot to protect this environment"

George Bush, US president

"There are a number of ways to achieve these reductions, but all responsible approaches depend on accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies."

 

But his goal to stop the growth of these emissions by 2025 is far below what the European Union has sought and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has outlined.


By 2020, the European Union plans to unilaterally cut emissions by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and the cut will deepen to 30 per cent if other rich countries follow suit.


The US and other countries agreed at a December meeting in Bali, Indonesia, to set firm targets for reducing greenhouse emissions by the end of 2009 as a follow-up to the Kyoto reduction targets that expire in 2012.

 

The US is the world's biggest emitter of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions that are blamed for climate change.

 

It is also the only industrialised nation that has not ratified the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol.

 

Bush, who says the Kyoto pact excluded major developing nations, China and India, on Wednesday urged major polluting nations to set national goals to address climate change.

Source: Agencies