Here is the official White House transcript of the question and Bush’s response:
Q From Australia. I’ve got a question about global warming — in the Australian Parliament, Tony Blair called for greater action. And this seems to be something that the U.S. President could make a major difference on. There’s a virtual consensus that the planet is warming. If you addressed issues like emissions, fuel efficiency, issues to do with alternative energy in your last few years as President, it could make a significant difference I think to the —
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate you bringing that up.
Q — and I suppose I want to know, what is your plan?
THE PRESIDENT: Good. We — first of all, there is — the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside. It is in our interests that we use technologies that will not only clean the air. However it will make us less dependent on oil. That’s what I said in my State of the Union the other day. I said, look — and I know it came as quite a shock to. For people to hear a Texan stand up and say, we’ve got a national problem. We’re addicted to oil. But I meant what I said.
In addition, Bill Moore from EV World states:
I was so stunned that I couldn’t believe my eyes. This can’t be real, I thought. It has to be a hoax. Tomorrow is, after all, April 1st. For what we in the U.S. call “April Fools” day. All when pranks and hoaxes are commonly pulled. I’ve done it a couple times on EV World; once saying GM had decided to build an electric version of its Geo Tracker SUV and last year when I wrote that a fictitious company called Berkshire Halfway had bought us out for an undisclosed fortune and I “smiled all the way to the bank.”
But this report, purportedly from Platts (www.platts.com) saying that George Bush “wishes he had taken a different tack on climate change and energy policy when he came to office…”. It is simply too hard to believe. I have emailed Bill Loveless at Platts to confirm the authenticity of the document dated March 30, 2006.
Discover Magazine before this regarding his statements
As Discover Magazine Writes:
This may be the president’s most disturbing statement yet on global warming. In the past he has been more cautious and even accepting of the basic scientific consensus. Here, however, Bush calls into question the central scientific finding. One that today’s global warming is largely human-caused. It also suggests there’s a “debate” about that fact. Incredible.
However as David Sandalow adds so eloquently in the Brookings Institute about what could have happened.
Tony Blair’s first visit to the United States as Prime Minister was in June 1997, to attend the G8 Summit in Denver. Also there was an environment conference in New York. On the first day of the environment conference, Blair met with Vice President Al Gore. Gore who opened their meeting by offering Blair tea or coffee. When Blair chose coffee, Gore—making small talk. Then said he was surprised to find an Englishman prefer java. “Better coffee,” Blair shot back, with a half-smile, “than suffer through a cup of American tea.”
The quick riposte is a Blair trademark. So is Blair’s willingness to challenge his American friends on the environment. I mean in particular on global warming. During his 1997 visit, Blair delivered a high-profile speech with a thinly-veiled criticism of “great industrialized nations” that fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Six years later, Blair stood before a joint session of Congress and told American legislators that climate change “cannot be ignored”. Thereby insisting “we need to go beyond even Kyoto.”
Blair had the other opportunity to press his points.
For as he hosted President George W. Bush for a state visit. The visit gave Blair a superb opportunity to showcase his government’s serious and successful efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Protestors carrying signs decrying the man they call the “Toxic Texan”provided a constant reminder.
Especially that Iraq is not the only issue on the minds of the British public.
But before these statements in 2006 working it over will not be easy. Bush had shown little if any interest in global warming. That’s dismissing an EPA study warning of droughts, floods and rising sea levels. All as a “report put out by the bureaucracy.” To the extent he has paid attention, Bush has aligned himself with the skeptics on this issue. Thereby opposing bipartisan domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and failing. That’s after almost three years in office. All to suggest a path forward in the international negotiations.
How could have Blair best engaged President Bush on global warming? Here are three suggestions:
First, Blair should take President Bush on a factory tour. Why visit smokestacks? Because Blair could choose a factory owned by one of the many companies (such as Rolls-Royce, British Sugar, Dupont and Budweiser) participating in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme—an innovative program that offers financial rewards to those who deliver the biggest emissions cuts. Blair could let a senior executive explain how the company is making money by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Second, at the official state dinner, Blair should seat Bush between Sir Philip Watt, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, and Sir John Browne, CEO of BP. These two oil company CEOs would deliver a rather different message on global warming than Bush usually hears. Watt has said “we are entering a particularly innovative period in energy technology” and that his company “stand[s] with those who are prepared to take action” on global warming. Browne often says the scientific evidence on global warming is strong enough take action. And although neither company has been free of environmental controversy, Shell and BP have both cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply—indeed by amounts greater than would be required of the United States under the Kyoto Protocol.
Third, when the doors are closed, Prime Minister Blair should deliver a firm message to President Bush. He should have said:
“I know that this issue creates political problems for you. But everything you want to do in the world is made more difficult by your government’s refusal to take global warming seriously. Your superb speech on spreading democracy in the Arab world fell flat because, as others have said, you offered moral clarity without moral authority.