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PRESIDENT expands research of climate change

Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Before leaving for Europe where his environmental policies have come under attack, President Bush announced new initiatives to study the rise in the Earth's temperature. He reasserted that a proposed treaty on global warming is fatally flawed.

Bush spoke Monday in the Rose Garden, reaffirming his decision in March to pull the United States out of negotiations to finalize the Kyoto treaty on global warming. He called for research into technological solutions to slow greenhouse emissions _ without hurting the economy.

America is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which result in part from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels. But Bush said the United States also accounts for about one-quarter of the world's economic output.

``We recognize our responsibility to reduce our emissions,'' Bush said. ``We also recognize the other part of the story _ that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases and many of those emissions are from developing countries.''

The president cited China as the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but noted that China, as well as India, would be exempt from requirements of the Kyoto agreement.

``We want to work cooperatively with these countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and maintain economic growth,'' Bush said.

The president proposed an effort to study global warming and bolster coordination among research institutions throughout the world. He also called for a separate initiative that would fund research for the development of new technologies to cut greenhouse gases.

Bush hopes to ease tension with U.S. allies by agreeing that there is a problem _ even if his solution lacks the regulatory teeth of the international pact negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The treaty would require industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gases by specified amounts.

``The Kyoto Protocol was fatally flawed in fundamental ways,'' Bush said. ``But the process used to bring nations together to discuss our joint response to climate change is an important one. That is why I am today committing the United States of America to work within the United Nations framework and elsewhere to develop with our friends and allies and nations throughout the world an effective and science-based response to the issue of global warming.''

European Union leaders are expected to raise the Kyoto Protocol this week when they meet with Bush in Goteborg, Sweden. The treaty committed industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average 5.2 percent by 2012 from 1990 levels. The EU said it plans to cut emissions by 8 percent over that period.

Margot Wallstroem, the EU's environment commissioner, said Monday in Belgium that she is confident the EU's 15 member nations could exceed the Kyoto climate targets without putting a brake on the region's economy.

Some environmentalists believe that any proposal without mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would be inadequate.

``The threat from global warming will continue to grow until these gases are brought under control,'' said Michael Oppenheimer, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund.

In Spain, Bush's first stop, thousands of demonstrators marched on Sunday to protest, among other things, his stance on global warming.

A banner stretched across a speaker's platform in Madrid said: ``No to interventionism. No to neoliberal globalization. No to the destruction of the climate.''

A report by the National Academy of Sciences presented to the White House last week concluded that the Earth's temperature is rising, mainly because of human activities, and said dire climate changes could occur this century.

Bush had expressed skepticism about global warming and requested the report to determine the science behind the phenomenon.

The president and several Cabinet members were preparing a new position on global warming that, unlike Kyoto's mandates, offers mostly voluntary initiatives and flexible emissions caps for polluters.


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