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Europe

Bush's Kyoto Protocol

The US president on Thursday unveiled his own environmental pact, to a cool European reception.

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An approach "based on common sense"

A year after withdrawing from the Kyoto environmental treaty to international scorn, United States President George W. Bush plans to unveil a gas and emissions pact which will steer the environmental path his country will take in the next decade.

The White House wants to "slow, stop and then, as the science justifies, reverse emission growth," according to excerpts from the proposal Bush will present before the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on Thursday.

The plan will set goals for greenhouse gas cuts based on US economic growth, while giving firms incentives for sticking to them.

Economic risk was one of the reasons Bush pulled out of Kyoto shortly after taking office in 2001.

The European Union, at the time highly critical of Bush, on Thursday responded cautiously to his new proposal.

"It is positive that the US administration is realizing that there needs to be something done about climate change," said EU Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen. "But we feel that the multilateral approach is the best way to face up to this tremendous challenge."

Emissions cuts

Scientists have warned that emissions, of carbon dioxide in particular, are trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere, raising temperatures faster than at any other time in history.

The 15 member states of the European Union plan to cut emissions by 8 percent of their 1990 levels. The United States, under Kyoto, were to cut 7 percent.

Bush criticized the Kyoto's deal's faith in disputed scientific theories. His new plan, he said, would cut emissions by 18 percent over the next 10 years, levels comparable to Kyoto. He also said it would spur economic growth by creatingg incentives for investment in environmentally-sound technology.

Making economic sense

"This new approach is based on the common sense idea that sustainable economic growth is the key to environmental progress – because it is growth that provides the resources for investment in clean technologies," he said.

Critics said his new proposal was done for the benefit of the oil companies who are among his biggest campaign backers.

Carl Pope of the American environmental group the Sierra Club called the proposal a "sweetheart deal to the corporate polluters that funded his campaign."

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