(U-WIRE) DURHAM, N.C. ? President George W. Bush ran as a compassionate conservative. This brand of politician allegedly took a more moderate position on hard-line conservative issues. In his campaign, Bush pledged support for reducing carbon dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions. Bush pointed to Texas as an example of how mandatory regulations could be successful.
Unfortunately, Bush?s handling of the Kyoto treaty ? an international agreement to combat global warming ? shows that his passion for the environment may only come in quadrennial swings.
Negotiated in 1997, the Kyoto accord has faced significant opposition in the Senate, which must ratify the treaty if it is to become law. Senators have had serious reservations about the fairness of the treaty in its treatment of industrialized nations such as the United States, versus developing countries like China.
In some ways, Bush?s rejection merely killed a bill that was already dead. The troubling part of the president?s action, however, lies in how unequivocally he abandoned the standards of the Kyoto proposal.
Bush?s handling of the treaty has been anything but compassionate toward environmental concerns. Many Americans support clean air and other environmental standards ? something Bush apparently noticed during his campaign.
Instead of proposing an alternative to the treaty or seeking other input, he rejected it outright. This undiplomatic action has had the predictable consequences ? American allies abroad are upset, as are many people at home.
America is a large, prosperous nation that produces 25 percent of the world?s greenhouse gases. The luxury of being the only remaining superpower comes with a responsibility to maintain the world for all people to enjoy.
Although the Kyoto standards could potentially harm U.S. industry, the standards also could have opened the window for American ingenuity. Americans have proven to be resourceful in almost any situation. Environmental standards could have provided the incentive for this creative spirit to maintain and improve the environment.
If Bush truly believes in his campaign pledge and Kyoto?s particular implementation was what troubled him, then he must step forward and reaffirm his commitment with action.
The president must propose a plan that seriously attempts to reduce global pollution. He should seek input from the Senate leadership to find common ground.
Pointing out the importance of the initiative to the business community and seeking its support for a real plan could also be beneficial. Although the Kyoto treaty may have been bad in the eyes of the president, Bush should support international efforts to better the environment and pursue agreements to mediate environmental issues between nations.
The Bush presidency is still in its infancy. Citizens are becoming accustomed to a new methods of White House operation. These citizens should not come to expect their president to go back on his promises.
Bush must step forward and demonstrate his support for improving the environment with decisive action on this serious issue.