Bush Speech Draws Criticism on Iraq

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 3:23 PM

BERLIN -- World leaders praised President Bush on Wednesday for taking a step forward on global warming in his State of the Union address, but added that concrete goals are needed to significantly reduce greenhouse gasses.

The president's ideas on Iraq fell largely flat, however, amid criticism that his plan to send more troops doesn't offer anything new.

Bush's proposal to reduce U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next decade with tougher fuel economy standards and mandatory production of more ethanol and other alternative fuels got widespread praise as an important step in the fight against global warming.

"His remarks about climate change, his willingness to reduce energy consumption and to support alternative energy sources, will be welcomed in Europe in general, and in Germany especially," said Karsten Voigt, coordinator for the German government's relations with the U.S.

"It also has an impact for security policy because it diminishes our dependence on the oil-producing countries," Voigt said in a telephone interview.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been urging the U.S. to do more on climate change, told the House of Commons he is optimistic after hearing Bush's speech. "I do believe this whole debate is now moving in a completely different and more positive direction," Blair said.

The goals set by Bush are an important step, but he also needs to ensure they are implemented, James Cameron, chief executive of Britain's Climate Change Capital, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

If "the U.S. is moving in that direction, it's a tremendous alignment with the rest of the world and should make it easier to get international agreement on climate change following the end of the Kyoto protocol," he said.

But others said that in failing to set specific targets for energy consumption, Bush did not go far enough to make an impact in the fight against global warming.

"It could have been even better if he had had more things to offer in relation to what American households and companies should do more of," said Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard.

Others were even more skeptical.

"We find the president's actions to tackle climate change as being profoundly weak, although at long last the president is acknowledging that the issue is a serious challenge," said Don Henry, executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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