The U.S. president, notorious for his long-standing opposition to fixed mandates to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, enacted legislation while governor of Texas that required energy companies to produce 5,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2015. The legislation set penalties for those that failed to meet their requirements, and prodded them to invest in renewable energy.
In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush and his Texas legislature passed the Renewable Portfolio Standards Act, which spurred development of alternative energy, especially wind farms. Today, Texas leads the nation in wind-power generation; all due to Bush’s willingness to set firm mandates instead of letting businesses maintain the status quo.
As U.S. president in 2001, however, Bush rejected carbon-emission limits as a threat to economic growth. Largely on that basis, he rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which requires participants to reduce emissions by 2012 to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. He was whistling the same regressive tune last week at the September 28 meeting on climate change in Washington. What a difference two years makes!
In December, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will hold negotiations to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012. Bush can still play a useful role, but only if he follows his own earlier example.