The US government believing in global warming?

Published: Thursday 30 September 2004

the George W Bush administration in the us has acknowledged for the first time, though only tacitly, that human activities cause global warming. But any major policy change by the us government regarding climate change doesn't seem to be in the offing.

The commerce and energy secretaries in the Bush administration as well as its chief scientific adviser have endorsed a report, Our Changing Planet, which highlights a study on the issue. This study notes that North American temperature changes from 1950 to 1999 were "unlikely" to be only due to "natural" climatic variations, though this might have been the cause for the warming from 1900 to 1949. The report was submitted to the us Congress and released on August 25, 2004. It also highlights the recent research accomplishments and future plans of the us Climate Change Science Program (ccsp), which coordinates and integrates scientific research on climate change with the help of 13 other government agencies.

While delivering the report to the Congress, ccsp director James Mahoney, who is also the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said it provided the "best possible scientific information to address climate variability and change" and "would help decision-makers evaluate and respond to climate change." But Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan, is reported to have ruled out any change in the government's position on global warming, saying that the causes and consequences of the phenomenon were still not clearly understood. In June 2002, the us had presented similar information to the un Framework Convention on Climate Change. But Bush had distanced himself from it saying it was "something put out by the bureaucracy." It would, however, be difficult for him to do the same this time, given that senior officials have endorsed the document.

In a separate development, the Guardian quoted a uk environment minister as saying that his country would put pressure on the us at a senior level to act on the matter. In his forthcoming speech on climate change in September 2004, uk prime minister Tony Blair is likely to call on the us "to be more ambitious".

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