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Bush Proposes International Clean Tech Fund

At today’s meeting on climate change, President Bush outlined his climate change proposal which includes creating an “international clean technology fund,” to be supported by contributions from governments around the world, that would help finance clean-energy projects in developing countries, The New York Times reports.

The administration’s insistence that any plan to reduce emissions be voluntary and devised by individual nations rather than as a part of a worldwide treaty continued to frustrate some attendees.

“Smart technology does not just materialize by itself,” The Times reports John Ashton, a special adviser on climate change to the British foreign secretary, as saying. Ashton, who has said that voluntary measures are ineffective, said “smart technology” requires government commitment and investment, and he noted that Mr. Bush did not state a specific goal for reducing carbon emissions.

In words that echoed statements made yesterday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the president said, “Our guiding principle is clear, we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people.”

The US hopes the two-day conference will kick off a 15-month process under which the 16 participating economies will sketch targets for tackling their emissions, examine the possibility of a long-term goal and look at ways of harnessing business and new technology for the carbon cleanup.

According to Bush’s proposal:

  • By next summer, heads of state should convene to finalize a long-term goal for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and to establish strong and transparent systems for measuring progress in order to reach a global consensus at the UN in 2009.
  • Each nation should design its own separate strategies for making progress toward achieving this long-term goal. These strategies must be environmentally effective and measurable and reflect each country’s different energy resources, different stages of development, and different economic needs.
  • President Bush has proposed the creation of a new international clean technology fund to help developing nations harness the power of clean energy technologies. This fund will help finance clean energy projects in the developing world. The President has asked Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to coordinate this effort -? and he plans to begin exploratory discussions with participating countries over the next several months.

At a UN meeting earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ratcheted up the pressure on the U.S. to help achieve a breakthrough on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. “I have high expectations of all countries, including the United States,’’ Ban said, noting that it might be a “long and difficult negotiation process.

Diplomats concluded a UN-sponsored climate meeting in Vienna earlier this month with a statement saying industrialized countries should aspire to cut their emissions to 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

President Bush announced this week’s meeting in May, just before the G8 summit in Germany.

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