Leaders of the eight largest industrialized nations – or G-8 – agreed last week in Heilingendamm, Germany, to join forces to make “substantial” – but unspecified – cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. At President Bush’s insistence, the G-8 did not impose binding targets for the reductions. G-8 Summit host Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the compromise as a major step forward, although some analysts call it “weak.”
Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former governor of the state of New Jersey, says the compromise does represent “major progress” because the United States is now at the table and “reengaged in international dialogue” on the issue of climate change. Speaking with host Carol Castiel of VOA New Now’s Press Conference USA, Governor Whitman says what is really significant about President Bush’s proposal is that it is a “way to get China and India to the table as well.”
Although the United States is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, Governor Whitman says “China will pass us – not in 10 years – but next year.” And she says, America needs to share its knowledge with the rest of the world about how to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and how to be more energy efficient “so that the developing economies can continue their growth in a way that doesn’t damage the world’s environment” and the health of their citizens.
Governor Whitman says the United States faces the possibility of a 40 % increase in power demand by 2030, which will probably require reconsidering the matter of nuclear power while developing safe ways to dispose of nuclear waste. However, there is no “magic bullet,” Christine Todd Whitman says, so the nation needs to pursue several alternatives – solar energy and wind power, non-fossil fuels such as ethanol, hybrid gasoline, and electric cars. And she adds, conservation is a must, and citizens should be encouraged to buy energy-efficient cars and appliances. Several states, Governor Whitman says, have been creative in encouraging businesses to devise strategies for conservation. She suggests more tax incentives for people to drive hybrid cars.
Governor Whitman says it would be helpful if Congress authorizes the Department of Transportation to boost the gas mileage requirement for cars. Furthermore, it is important to increase the infrastructure across the country to provide fuel for hybrid cars.
Christine Todd Whitman is also the author of a best-selling book, It’s My Party Too. She and a group of other like-minded moderate Republicans are engaged in supporting “fiscally conservative,” but “socially inclusive,” Republican candidates. Governor Whitman notes that both major political parties – instead of campaigning for the center “where the majority of Americans say they are” – go to their base, that is, to people who “tend to be more extreme.” For example, some Republican candidates have changed their position on social issues, she says, to please people who are “perceived to be those who are likely to come out and vote.” However, they may not be able to appeal to the majority of Americans in the general election.
For full audio of the program Press Conference USA click here.