George Bush is preparing to make a historic shift in his position on climate change when he makes his State of the Union speech later this month.

British officials are hoping that Bush’s belated new stance by the United States will lead to a breakthrough in talks to a successor treaty to the Kyoto agreement that expires in 2012.

However, the Union address could still be full of promises with no action. Kurt Davies, research director for Greenpeace USA, argues “The sands are clearly shifting on climate change for this administration, but there has to be a concrete follow-up. We were shocked last year when he talked about the US being addicted to oil, but then there was no follow-up to that”.


  • More on the White House denying the story:

    :No Bush U-turn on mandatory caps, White House says
    E&E Publishing
    Darren Samuelsohn and Ben Geman, E&ENews PM senior reporters

    President Bush will not use his State of the Union address to reverse his long-standing opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said today.

    Snow dismissed recent published reports suggesting Bush would make a U-turn on his global warming policies when addressing the Democrat-controlled Congress next Tuesday.

    “It’s not accurate. It’s wrong,” Snow said during his morning press conference.

    Asked about global warming again in the afternoon briefing, Snow replied: “If you’re talking about enforceable carbon caps, in terms of industry wide and nationwide, we knocked that down. That’s not something we’re talking about.”

    In recent days, the British newspaper The Observer and a Washington Post columnist have reported the Bush administration appears ready to make a historic shift on climate change. The articles speculated Bush could announce support of a mandatory cap-and-trade system for U.S. emissions.

    But Snow cautioned the stories may have been planted by sources who favor such an approach. “I think what’s going on there is that maybe some people on the outside like that policy and are floating that possibility,” he said. “Therefore, if they don’t get their way, they can complain.”

    National Economic Council chairman and White House energy policy coordinator Al Hubbard sparked interest in the energy component of Bush’s State of the Union earlier this month when he promised the speech would generate “headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.”

    While Snow would not comment directly on what Bush plans to discuss, the press secretary repeated the administration’s climate and energy position in favor of voluntary programs and developing technologies.

    “The president believes in doing everything in our power to use innovation and the power of innovation to achieve people’s goals of having cleaner energy and abundant energy,” Snow said.

    Many expect Bush’s speech will build on a pledge made last year to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and by boosting support for alternative fuels.

    Senate Dems prepare response

    With seven days until the speech, Senate Democrats are already polishing their talking points concerning Bush’s energy and environmental agenda.

    In a memo to reporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) alleges Bush has failed to deliver on promised energy policy changes in every State of the Union speech since 2001.

    The Reid memo — titled “Bush’s State of the Union Energy Promises – Rhetoric vs. Reality” — cites a line from Bush’s 2001 speech stating “America must become more energy independent, and we will.”

    Reid also questions the United States’ increase in import reliance since Bush took office. Imports meet about two thirds of U.S. petroleum demand. A spokesman for the Senate Democratic leadership said more memos are expected before next Tuesday’s speech.

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