President Bush says the challenges of global climate change are best addressed by each nation making its own choices about reducing emissions. VOA White House correspondent Scott Stearns reports, that is in marked contrast to the United Nations, which wants cuts in greenhouse gases to be mandatory.
In a bid to rally support for his proposal, President Bush brought together officials from most of the world's largest polluters to set goals for reducing greenhouse gases.
The two-day conference at the U.S. State Department is designed to improve cooperation with private industry on new technologies and set strategies for beyond 2012, when the current Kyoto protocol on climate change expires.
More than 160 nations ratified that agreement. But not the United States because President Bush says Kyoto would have hurt the U.S. economy and does not include emissions from developing nations.
Mr. Bush told the conference Friday that the United States takes the issue of climate change seriously, and will do its part to cooperate on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"By working together, we will set wise and effective policies," he said. "That is what I am interested in: effective policies. I want to get the job done. We have identified a problem. Let us go solve it together."
More than a dozen nations responsible for four-fifths of the world's pollution took part in the conference, including the United States, China, and India. Those three governments oppose mandatory controls on carbon dioxide sought by most European countries and the United Nations.
While America shares U.N. goals to address climate change, President Bush says individual countries must be free to strike their own balance between economic growth and environmental protection.
"Each nation will design its own separate strategies for making progress toward achieving this long-term goal," he said. "These strategies will reflect each country's different energy resources, different stages of development, and different economic needs."
The meeting in Washington followed one held Monday in New York, hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which President Bush did not attend. The U.N. chief says the nature and magnitude of climate change means no nation can address the challenge on its own.
"This is precisely the kind of global challenge that the United Nations is best suited to address," he said. "Indeed, I am gratified by the universal recognition that the United Nations climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating global action. At the same time, I share the dismay of many at the slow progress of these negotiations."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Washington conference is meant to support the next round of U.N. talks on climate change in Indonesia in December.
President Bush proposed an international fund to pay for research into clean-energy technologies and to help developing nations harness those technologies to reduce emissions.