Brussels, 15 February 2002
"I welcome that the US Government has now put forward its plan for a domestic climate change policy. I am hopeful that this will raise awareness in the United States of the urgent need for action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The US, as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has a great responsibility in contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.
But the plan is no alternative to the Kyoto Protocol to which the EU remains fully committed. The Protocol is the only effective international framework for combating global warming and we urge the United States to return to the Kyoto process.
It seems that President Bush's proposals will not lead to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions but allow a significant increase. This raises the question whether the US will be able to meet its commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The US has ratified the Convention that requires parties to stabilise their greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels.
The EU has already reduced its emissions below 1990 levels and we will meet our Kyoto target of an 8% reduction by 2008-2012. Ultimately, the efforts made by the US should match those undertaken in other parts of the world in the context of the Kyoto Protocol.
To protect our climate we will have to reduce emissions. We all know that even the targets in the Kyoto Protocol are only a first step if we want to prevent the severe consequences that climate change could have. Action to fight climate change is vital to achieve sustainable development. President Bush believes that taking action under the Kyoto Protocol would harm the US economy. I think that improving the environment through technological progress can actually enhance our competitiveness and fuel economic growth. This is what sustainable development is about: Protecting our eco-system while ensuring economic prosperity."