WASHINGTON The United States will commit $2
billion over the next three years to a new international fund
to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change,
President George W. Bush told Congress on Monday in his annual
State of the Union speech.
"Let us create a new international clean technology fund,
which will help developing nations like India and China make
greater use of clean energy sources," Bush said.
He said the United States is committed to working with
major economies and the United Nations to complete an
international agreement that "has the potential to slow, stop
and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases."
"This agreement will be effective only if it includes
commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride,"
Bush said. "The United States is committed to strengthening our
energy security and confronting global climate change."
Delegates from the biggest greenhouse gas-polluting
countries will meet this week in Hawaii to spur U.N.
negotiations for an international climate agreement by 2009
that would replace the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expiring
The Bush administration rejects the Kyoto Protocol, saying
it unfairly exempts developing countries from cutting emissions
and could hurt the U.S. economy. Bush favors voluntary measures
and "aspirational goals" to limit climate change.
In response to Bush's speech, environmental groups called
the president's voluntary efforts to curb global warming an old
approach that would not work.
"In the fight against global warming, the science is clear:
the path to avoid catastrophic climate change starts with
mandatory limits on global warming pollution ... a voluntary
approach adds up to lots of rhetoric and little actual change,"
said the National Wildlife Federation.
On energy issues, Bush once again called for the United
States to cut its dependence on oil, which this month hit a
record $100.09 a barrel, by developing new sources of energy.
NEW BATTERIES, RENEWABLE FUEL
"To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the
creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and
empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy
technology. Our security, our prosperity and our environment
all require reducing our dependence on oil," Bush said.
He said the United States needs to generate more of its
electricity from clean coal, solar and wind energy and nuclear
power. He also called for more investment in developing
advanced batteries and renewable fuels that will run future
cars and trucks.
The National Mining Association welcomed Bush's call for
more clean energy use, particularly cleaner-burning coal.
"Providing greater clean power and energy security for U.S.
businesses and families is not a partisan political objective,
but one both parties must pursue to meet the environmental and
energy supply challenges that lie ahead," the group said.
Bush is not giving up on oil altogether. The White House
said the administration wants Congress to pass legislation that
opens to drilling more offshore U.S. waters and parts of Alaska
where energy exploration is now banned.
Bush also wants Congress to approve doubling the size of
the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which can now hold about 727
million barrels of emergency oil supplies at four underground
storage sites in Texas and Louisiana.
Unlike last year's State of the Union message, there was
little in Bush's speech this year calling for a major overhaul
of U.S. energy policy.
That is because Congress passed a comprehensive energy bill
that Bush signed into law in December. It increases vehicle
fuel efficiency for the first time in over three decades,
significantly boosts ethanol use, makes appliances more energy
efficient and phases out the traditional light bulb.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; editing by John O'Callaghan)