Daily Sentinel baselessly asserted that Bush has maintained a consistent position on climate change

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction dubiously asserted in a June 11 editorial that President Bush and his administration have maintained a consistent position on global warming. Contrary to the newspaper's claim that a new plan to combat global warming "has been Bush's position all along," widespread reporting has documented his inconsistent positions on global warming-related issues.

In a June 11 editorial, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction baselessly asserted that European nations' consideration of President Bush's new plan to combat global warming, introduced at the recent G-8 Summit, suggests "new global support for what has been Bush's position all along." In fact, there has been widespread reporting of the president's resistance to measures aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions domestically and his inconsistent positions on global warming-related issues.

As the Associated Press reported June 8, "Group of Eight leaders including President Bush agreed Thursday to call for substantial global emissions reductions to fight global warming." The agreement was consistent with Bush's "New International Climate Change Framework," which, as Colorado Media Matters noted (here and here), has been met with widespread skepticism as the proposal relies solely on voluntary efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions without setting mandatory caps.

As the Daily Sentinel asserted, "[t]he Bush plan ... calls for cutting global CO2 emissions in half by 2050" and "includes large and rapidly industrializing countries that were left out of Kyoto -- namely China and India -- in the discussions of ways to reduce CO2 emissions." However, the 2050 objective generally has been attributed to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel. Also, The Boston Globe reported on June 1 that "[j]ust days ago, European leaders were furious at the White House for rejecting a proposal to cut international greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050." Moreover, contrary to the editorial's dubious suggestion that this has been "Bush's position all along," The New York Times noted in a June 1 article (subscription required) that the occasion was "the first time" Bush has proposed setting " 'a long-term global goal' for cutting greenhouse gas emissions." The Times further observed that the announcement came as "the latest in a series of shifts on climate change by Mr. Bush."

Similarly, the Globe's June 1 article quoted Robert N. Stavins, professor of environmental economics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, as saying of Bush's proposal: " '[T]his is the first time the administration -- and the president in particular -- has actually signaled engagement in international discussions' about global warming."

And in contrast to the Daily Sentinel, The Denver Post in a June 4 editorial, headlined "Bush's about-face on warming," called "Bush's tiptoe entry into the world fight against the global warming ... a welcome policy change."

Earlier media reports also have noted Bush positions regarding global warming that appear divergent from the plan he offered the Group of Eight. As the Chicago Tribune reported in a November 27, 2000, article about a United Nations World Climate Change Conference, "Bush has worried those who promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions because of statements he made" during the 2000 presidential election, in which he said "further studies were needed to determine whether global warming was real."

Reporting on the release of Bush's "long-awaited plans ... for slowing the buildup of gases linked to climate change," the Times noted on February 15, 2002, that Bush had already "abandoned a campaign pledge to cut power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide and three other pollutants." On August 26, 2004, the Times reported, "In a striking shift in the way the Bush administration has portrayed the science of climate change, a new report to Congress focuses on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades." Yet when a Times reporter questioned Bush about his administration's policy shift on global warming, Bush seemed unfamiliar with the change reflected by the new report, replying: "Ah, we did? I don't think so."

The Daily Sentinel also misleadingly asserted that "[while] from 2000 to 2004, the European Union countries committed to the Kyoto protocols actually increased their carbon-dioxide emissions over the levels of the previous five years ... the United States, which never accepted the Kyoto dictates, reduced its CO2 emmissions (sic) compared to the previous five years." In fact, according to figures from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, while the rate at which the United States emitted carbon dioxide slowed during the 2000-2004 period compared with the previous five years, those emissions actually increased, by about 1.3 percent for 2004 compared with 2000.

From the June 11 Daily Sentinel editorial, "Global leaders are warming to Bush plan":

Here's an important fact to remember as you contemplate the news that top world leaders meeting in Germany last week basically accepted President George W. Bush's voluntary plan for dealing with global climate change and abandoned the mandatory reductions dictated under the old Kyoto plan: To wit, from 2000 to 2004, the European Union countries committed to the Kyoto protocols actually increased their carbon-dioxide emissions over the levels of the previous five years while the United States, which never accepted the Kyoto dictates, reduced its CO2 emmissions compared to the previous five years.

The Bush plan endorsed by leaders of the G-8 economic summit in Germany last week calls for cutting global CO2 emissions in half by 2050.

[...]

The command-and-control, Al Gore-types who have long viewed global climate change as an excuse for government to reach into virtually every aspect of our economy with heavy-handed regulations will no doubt be apoplectic about the new global support for what has been Bush's position all along.

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