New Bush Global Warming Plan Covers Old Ground, Foils Solutions

Meanwhile, Global Business Leaders Call for Fast Action, Clear Rules

WASHINGTON (December 4, 2002) -- Ignoring a decade of peer-reviewed global warming science, the Bush administration this week called for at least five more years of study before taking any substantial action to stem the problem -- delay that will make it harder and more expensive to solve the problem, according to NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).

In fact, the most critical issues in the new scientific agenda have been extensively analyzed over the past 10 years by thousands of experts, including the National Academy of Sciences. Last May, the White House itself conceded that global warming poses a significant and costly threat to the U.S., and acknowledged that heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution is the leading culprit.

"The most important questions about global warming have been asked and answered," said Dan Lashof, science director of the NRDC Climate Center. "Scientists will continue to color in the details, but the main verdict is already in: Global warming has begun and, if left unchecked, it threatens to wreak havoc. This plan takes us backwards in time at precisely the moment when forward progress is critical."

The answer is cleaner cars and cleaner energy. The White House opposes any mandatory limits on carbon pollution from either source. New measures to reduce emissions from power plants and other industrial polluters require years to fully implement. While the U.S. delays, investors around the world are building expensive new energy plants using outdated, highly polluting technologies. Every year of delay locks in more outmoded investment and increases the ultimate costs of protecting the environment.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that $4.2 trillion will be spent on new electric generating plants alone between now and 2030 -- an average investment rate of $140 billion a year. In the year 2020, half the electric generating capacity in the world will be in plants that are not yet built.

"The important thing is to get rules in place and start investing in clean technologies to reduce carbon pollution," Lashof said. "We have the know-how to start fixing the problem, but we have to begin now."

Global Business Leaders Call for Faster Action

In contrast with the foot dragging in Washington, a group of leading British companies -- several of which have major U.S. operations -- this week asked their government for quicker action on global warming, saying that "delay will lead to instability and uncertainty in the market. Industry needs a clear framework to plan and invest with confidence, ensuring the most efficient use of capital."

For more on the British move, see "Moving to a Low Carbon Economy" at

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
NRDC's Global Warming pages