Bush & Blair Discuss Africa, Trade, Climate Change
U.S. President and Prime Minister Blair Discuss Africa, Trade, Climate Change
8:39 A.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Good morning, everyone. First of all, can I say a warm welcome to the President of the United States here at the G8 summit. And I hope and believe we'll have a good and productive couple of days. You know the issues that are there -- Africa and climate change -- and I hope and believe we can make progress on both of them.
We've had a good discussion this morning, and the commitments that we've entered into over the past period of time on Africa, as you know, has -- through the focus of the G8, I think has meant that we are in a position where I hope very much we can meet the reasonable expectations of many millions of people outside.
And on climate change, obviously, we've been discussing the issue and whether it's going to be possible to move into a different position on this issue in the future, where the world can come together. I certainly hope so.
Obviously, again, we discussed the broad range of issues, too -- the issue of Iraq, and Iran, the broader Middle East, and so on -- the normal range of issues you'd expect.
So I think that's all I really need to say by way of opening. The President will say a few words. And then we just -- I've got the President of China coming shortly that I have to go and greet. And we'll take a question from the British and a question from the Americans, if that's okay.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Tony. It's a beautiful day for a bike ride. (Laughter.) So was yesterday, I thought. But thank you for your leadership. This is going to be a successful summit.
The reason why is, is that the Prime Minister set very important goals for the industrialized world to meet, one of which is to help impoverished people on the continent of Africa. I'm proud of my nation's contribution toward meeting that goal. I think the world, when they take a good look at what we've achieved here, will say that all of us are living up to the admonition that to whom much is given, much is required.
I bring some specific projects to the table. One is to do something about malaria on the continent of Africa. Another is to educate young girls on the continent of Africa. Another is to help battered women on the continent of Africa, as well as our broader initiatives of trade and HIV/AIDS initiative.
Speaking about trade, I think it's very important for the world to hear very clearly the position of the United States, and that is that we want to work with the EU to rid our respective countries of agricultural subsidies. The best place to do that is at the Doha Round. I would hope that by 2010, that the Doha Round will achieve that objective.
Secondly, the Prime Minister has put global climate change on the table. This is an important issue. It's an issue that we -- where there's been disagreement in the past. But I think if people, again, look at what the Prime Minister, through his leadership, has achieved, there is a consensus that we need to move forward together.
The way to move forward together is to -- is to recognize, one, there's a problem, which I have since I've been the President; and two, that there is a constructive way to deal with the problem. The most constructive way to deal with the problem from our perspective is, one, to not only include the United States in discussions, but also include developing countries in discussions -- countries like India and China.
So you made a wise move, Mr. Prime Minister, to have invited India and China to this conference, where we will discuss our economic growth potential, coupled with the need to be wise stewards of the environment.
Secondly, this is a great opportunity to discuss the need to share technologies. We're spending over $20 billion a year on the issue of global warming, and on the issue of how to diversify ourselves away from a hydrocarbon-based economy, so that we can not only have economic security and better national security, but also so we can deal with this important issue. And I look forward to the discussions we're going to have on this important topic.
As the Prime Minister said, we also talked about the freedom agenda. One of the interesting discussions we're going to have this afternoon is progress being made between the Palestinians and Israelis. And I believe Jim Wolfensohn is coming, who is representing not only the United States, but also members of the EU, to discuss a way forward. And I look forward to having that discussion, and look forward to concrete ways that we all can contribute to this very important process.
All and all, Mr. Prime Minister, you've done a fine job. Thanks for having us. You picked a beautiful location, and of course, you've painted a beautiful day for us. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Thank you very much. Okay, Tom -- one UK, then one --
Q Mr. President, could I ask you about climate change? First of all, have you in any way changed your own view about this? And do you regard emissions targets as now off the table in terms of resolving this problem?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think if you look at a speech I gave in the Rose Garden there at the White House, I believe it was in the year 2001, I recognized that greenhouse gases were an issue and that we must deal with it. I also strongly believe that technologies, and the proper use of technologies, will enable the world to grow our economies, and at the same time, be wiser about how we protect the environment.
I said that based upon scientific evidence, the goal of the United States is to reduce, neutralize -- neutralize and then reduce emissions of greenhouse gases over time. And so my position has been pretty steady. What I didn't agree to was a way forward that, one, would have endangered our economy, and a way forward that excluded developing nations. I think there's a better way.
And the reason I'm appreciative of the Prime Minister for putting this on the -- putting this issue on the agenda is that we're now developing the better way forward. And the United States is more than happy to participate --
Q -- including targets --
PRESIDENT BUSH: We believe there's a better way than -- actually, I've set targets. The targets I've set are based upon efficiency standards that we would reduce greenhouse gases by 18 percent, relative to our economic growth. And we're meeting those targets.
But the former construct just didn't work for us. And I fully recognize that by making that point, it was not a popular position in parts of the world. Now is the time to get beyond the Kyoto period and develop a strategy forward that is inclusive not only of the United States, but of the developing nations, and, of course, nations like Great Britain.
And so the Prime Minister did the world a service by putting this on the agenda, and it's a chance to talk constructively and positively about what is possible. For example, for the United States to -- for our own economic security and national security, we have got to become less dependent on hydrocarbons. And the best way to do that is to develop new ways to power our automobiles through a -- and so I've laid out a hydrogen initiative in which we're going to spend over a billion dollars to develop research necessary to help foster new ways to power automobiles -- by the way, which will have an enormous effect on the future state of the environment.
So here's a way, for example, for us to work together. And it's -- Great Britain can be a great part of the hydrogen initiative, and I think the Prime Minister wants to be. Japan, of course, will play a leading role in the hydrogen initiative, and Prime Minister Koizumi is at the table. Germany should play a great role. In other words, there's an opportunity for those of us who have got the capacity to spend research dollars to share information. As I told you, we're spending over $20 billion a year to be better stewards of the environment, and at the same time, make sure that in the out years, we can grow our economy in a reasonable way.
Sorry, go ahead.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I was just going to come in here and say, I think you've got to understand what we're trying to do here. And I think people do, but it's just worth me saying this. There's no point in going back over the Kyoto debate. My country has got it's position on Kyoto, as have others; America has got its position on Kyoto. That is an argument that there has been, and we can't resolve that, and we're not going to negotiate some new treaty on climate change at the G8 summit. That's not what it's about.
What it is about is seeing whether it will be possible in the future to bring people back into consensus together -- not just America and Europe and Japan, but also America, Europe, Japan and the emerging economies, like China, like India, who, in the future, are going to be the major consumers of energy.
Now, can we do that? I don't know. But it's important that we at least begin a process of dialogue that allows us to make progress on it. And as you've just heard, it's not that America is saying, well, we don't care about this issue; the investment in research and development into clean technologies is probably greater in America than any other country in the world. The question is, can we, as we go forward, create the conditions in which, when Kyoto ends -- which it does in 2012 -- it's possible for the world to move into consensus. And if it isn't possible, then we've got a real problem for the future.
So it's important we set out the ambitions for this summit in a measured way. We're not going to resolve every single issue at the G8 summit in relation to this, but I think what we can do is narrow the issues down, get agreement that there is a problem, that we need to tackle it, that we need to move forward together in doing so, and then give ourselves the pathways -- I said to you guys yesterday -- give ourselves the pathway into a process that will allow us, post-Kyoto, to get back into agreement.
And that's -- and no disrespect to anyone's position on the existing Kyoto treaty -- everyone has got their positions on that, and that's not going to change, there's no point in thinking that's going to change. But the future is crucial.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm trying to recover from my faux pas yesterday. I made a terrible mistake yesterday. Toby -- (laughter.) Listen, I don't want to revisit -- I don't --
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: That's an intro for the American media. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't want to revisit the mistake. Let's just say, slightly offensive. Wrong gender when I called on her.
Q Mr. President, how can the United States, on one hand, urge China to play by the rules of the global economy and move toward a flexible currency, and on the other hand, efforts by Chinese companies like CNOOK to expand seem to be running into some roadblocks?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, what she's referring to is the fact that a Chinese oil company that's owned by the government is attempting to purchase U.S. assets. And there's been some concern expressed by members of the Congress in the form of a resolution that said that we are concerned about economic security -- and national security, for that matter -- when it comes to a state-owned company purchasing private assets.
There is a process that our government uses to analyze such purchases -- or intent to purchase. And it's best that I allow that process to move forward without comment. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Okay, thanks very much, guys. See you later.
Q How are you --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Feeling good, yes. Great. Ready to go for another ride.
Q -- did your legs up badly?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No. Talked to the policeman last night. He's doing fine. I'm less worried about myself and more worried about him. It just goes to show that I should act my age. (Laughter.)
Q Were you wearing a helmet?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Absolutely.
Q Did you crash into his bike?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, no, he was standing. I hit slick pavement. I was -- we were flying coming in. And, by the way, when you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall. Otherwise -- otherwise, you're not riding hard. And it was at the end of a good hour ride. The pavement was slick, and the bike came out from underneath me -- just like that -- just like that person on the Tour de France the other day. He's a lot better bike rider than I am, but -- (laughter.) That other American.
Q It's something to do when you retire --
PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't think so. I think I'm -- I think I found my limitations. But, I can't -- for those of you who like to mountain bike, I would strongly suggest getting out in this beautiful countryside. It is a spectacular part of the world. Just be careful on the finish. (Laughter.)
END 8:53 A.M. (Local)