Bush, European Leaders Agree Climate Change Demands Urgent Response


Monday, April 30th 2007, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush and European leaders claimed progress Monday in the effort to reduce global warming, largely by agreeing that climate change requires global action without infringing on the rights of nations to choose their own strategies.

``I think that each country needs to recognize that we must reduce our greenhouse gases and deal, obviously, with their own internal politics, to come up with an effective strategy,'' Bush said at a U.S.-European Union summit at the White House.

``The good news is, is that we recognize there's a problem,'' Bush said. ``The good news is (we) recognize technology is going to lead to solutions, and that we're willing to share those technologies.''

Bush spoke alongside European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president of the European Union. They agreed on a statement that links climate change and secure, affordable energy as global challenges.

International experts warn that unabated greenhouse gas emissions will drive up global temperatures, which in turn could exacerbate drought conditions, harm animal and plant life and yield other detrimental effects.

The agreement the leaders signed Monday promotes alternative fuels and energy efficiency, with a promise of cooperation on emerging technologies. It is intended to clear a path for a broader discussion about climate change at the G8 summit this June in Germany.

The European leaders suggested that even agreeing on the problem was a big step.

``We agree there is a threat, there is a very serious and global threat,'' Barroso said.

``Let's be frank,'' he said. ``Without the United States and Europe working together, we cannot engage others so that we can have a real global effort to face this very important threat to our economy, but also to our security.''

The White House has resisted European pressure to participate in international efforts to cap carbon emissions. Bush has rejected mandatory cutbacks, complaining they would hobble the U.S. economy. His administration is pushing to cut gasoline consumption by up to 20 percent over 10 years through higher fuel-economy standards for cars and increased reliance on alternative fuels.

Officials on Monday played up a positive theme. They said their statement on the climate issue shows how much they have in common.

Also at the White House meeting, Bush said he is stepping up a dialogue with Russia over a planned U.S. missile defense system in Europe in hopes of convincing Moscow that the United States is ``a friendly force.''

The issue came up at the urging of Merkel, who suggested Bush should better explain his plans to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Bush administration is planning to install a radar system and interceptors in Eastern Europe as part of its broader missile defense system. Last week, Putin repeated opposition to the U.S. plan and threatened to pull out of a key post-Cold War treaty that set limits on the deployment of military forces in Europe as a result.

``Our intention of course is to have a defense system that prevents rogue regimes from holding western Europe and/or America hostage,'' Bush said. ``Evidently, the Russians see it differently.''

Bush said he personally asked Putin to give Defense Secretary Robert Gates an audience on a recent trip to Moscow so that Gates could discuss the plan more fully.

``We have started a dialogue, as a result of Secretary Gates' visit, that hopefully will make explicit our intentions, and hopefully will present an opportunity to share with the Russians so that they don't see us as an antagonist force, but see us as a friendly force,'' Bush said.

The missile defense issue overshadowed the meeting, the primary goal of which was U.S.-European unity.

The three leaders praised a new agreement they reached to integrate their economies in such areas as trade, investment and innovation.

``It is a recognition that the closer the United States and E.U. become, the better off our people become,'' Bush said. ``And so this is a substantial agreement and I appreciate it.''

Bush and his European colleagues also pushed for the completion of stalled international trade talks, known as the Doha Round.