If George Bush thought his call to stop greenhouse gas emissions would earn him brownie points in the liberal media, he's mistaken, at least when it comes to the Times. White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, covered Bush's Rose Garden ceremony announcing his new climate initiative ("Bush Calls for U.S. to Halt Rise in Gas Emissions by 2025") but found precisely no one else cheeringhim on - each of Stolberg's outside sources criticized Bush's proposals from the environmentalist left.
President Bush called Wednesday for the United States to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and challenged other countries, including major polluters like China and India, to abandon trade barriers on energy-related technology and commit to goals of their own.
The White House cast Mr. Bush's announcement in the Rose Garden as an ambitious effort by a president determined to lead on the climate change issue, even with just nine months left in office.
But critics - including environmentalists, scientists and lawmakers - said the effort was too little, too late. They accused Mr. Bush of trying to derail legislation that would curb emissions even further. And because he did not offer any specifics for how to reach his 2025 goal, they dismissed the speech as irrelevant.
"It is now time for the U.S. to look beyond 2012 and take the next step," Mr. Bush said, a reference to his previously stated national goal, announced in 2002, of an 18 percent reduction in the growth of emissions of heat-trapping gases relative to economic growth by 2012. Mr. Bush said the nation was on track to meeting that target.
The speech was intended to influence an international conference on climate change, which is convening in Paris on Thursday. The conference is the outgrowth of a process Mr. Bush initiated last year, when he called together major polluting nations and urged them to come together by the end of 2009 around a common goal for the long-term reduction of emissions.
But Mr. Bush's talk was also a slap at the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is about to consider legislation that would impose limits on emissions and allow companies to trade pollution credits - the so-called "cap and trade" approach. The White House vehemently opposes that approach, a point Mr. Bush restated on Wednesday.
Stolberg concluded with this one-sided look at the climate change issue, assuming as fact that a dangerous rise in sea-level is inevitable if drastic government action is not taken.
Mr. Bush has faced international criticism for his views on climate change since the beginning of his presidency. He has steadfastly rejected the so-called Kyoto Protocol, which limits emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, on the ground that China and India - two of the world's biggest polluters - were not bound by the accord in the same way as the United States would be if it joined. Instead, Mr. Bush emphasized a voluntary approach to reducing the gas emissions.
Experts say it is unlikely that Mr. Bush could reach his goal of flattening emissions by 2025 without some kind of mandatory cap. Michael Oppenheimer, an author on several of the recent reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a climate expert at Princeton University said that even if Mr. Bush somehow set the country on track to meet his target, he was sending the wrong signal to other nations.
"U.S. failure to do more than stabilize emissions by 2025 likely means other developed countries won't do any more than that, and that then ripples through to China's position," Mr. Oppenheimer said, adding that it is difficult to see how the world could avoid dangerous warming and sea-level rise under the Bush proposal.