US President announces climate change projects

US President George W Bush has announced a number of new research initiatives designed to increase understanding of climate change and tackle the phenomenon without the need to damage the US economy, but which will be designed to improve international co-operation.

The President’s initiative includes research projects by NASA into how natural cycles affect climate change, as well as into the effects of aerosols and devising new modelling techniques, which will cost the organisation more than $120 over three years. There are also public-private partnership projects between the Energy Department and a variety of companies around the world into the capture and storage of carbon dioxide. Finally, according to the President, he is keen to promote co-operation with the Western Hemisphere, and so has announced three projects with Canada and a number of South and Central American countries.

“My Administration’s climate change policy will be science-based, encourage research breakthroughs that lead to technological innovation, and take advantage of the power of markets,” said Bush. “It will encourage global participation and will pursue actions that will help ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for our citizens and for citizens throughout the world.”

NASA’s projects are:

  • 80 new projects that will receive more than $50 million over the next three years to conduct remote sensing-orientated research on how carbon dioxide cycles through the Earth system and influences climate change, intended to further understanding of the role that sinks play in sequestering carbon;
  • a study of the global cycle of water and energy, particularly to increase understanding of the role that clouds and water vapour play in climate change, and to distinguish between human and natural impacts on climate change, costing $20 million over three years;
  • a study to determine whether aerosols have a net warming or cooling effect, and whether climate change will hamper recovery of the ozone layer, costing $22 million; and
  • a programme to aid the advancement of computer models of climate change which includes the aim of increasing the speeds at which they can be run, costing $10 million.

The first of the Department of Energy’s public-private partnerships comprise of a series of carbon dioxide capture projects in conjunction with nine energy companies including BP, Shell, Chevron and Texaco. The projects aim to target technologies that: remove CO2 from flue gases from fossil fuel combustion; separate CO2 from fuel before it is burned, producing pure hydrogen as the fuel source; and burn fossil fuels in an oxygen-enriched environment to produce a more concentrated, easier-to-capture stream of CO2. The research team will also develop guidelines for safely injecting and storing CO2 in geologic formations. The second public-private partnership is an investigation into carbon sequestration, particularly by forests in Brazil and Belize, with the Nature Conservancy, costing $2 million, of which the Energy Department will pay the bulk.

“Both projects tap the creative ingenuity of the private sector,” said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. “Both foster innovations that could provide future, affordable options for reducing greenhouse gases without compromising economic prosperity. Both involve international efforts that reflect the global nature of the climate change issue – and especially, global solutions.” Earlier this month, Abraham also announced over $100 million in research awards for companies and universities to develop energy efficiency and clean energy science and technology (see related story).

The President’s three international climate change projects are:

  • a debt-for-forest swap with El Salvador, generating more than $14 million to conserve tropical forests;
  • co-operation with Canada and Mexico to explore opportunities for market-based approaches for carbon sequestration, energy efficiency and renewable energy in North America; and
  • co-operation with Mexico and South America to bring together more than 100 scientists to conduct a month-long experiment into the interaction of stratus clouds, precipitation, and cool ocean surface temperatures, known as the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC), to better understand regional impacts of climate variability.

According to Bush, he is also committed to furthering global warming negotiations with other countries. “Finally, in keeping with my commitment to engage internationally, the United States has participated and will continue to participate constructively in international discussions on climate change,” he concluded.

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