House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on an overseas trip to embrace an audience and a topic for which President Bush has shown scant affection: "Old Europe" and global warming.
Pelosi, D-Calif., and seven other House members left Saturday for meetings with scientists and politicians in Greenland, Germany and Belgium on ways to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The trip comes shortly before a climate change summit next month involving the leading industrialized nations and during a time of increased debate over what should succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. It expires in 2012.
Bush rejected that accord, saying it would harm the U.S. economy and unfairly excludes developing countries like China and India from its obligations. Pelosi, who strongly disagrees with that decision and many other of Bush's environmental policies, told The Associated Press on Friday that she said she wants to work with the administration rather than provoke it.
But Pelosi stopped short of condemning the president's call for slowing the nation's growth rate in carbon emissions, an approach that many say is too meek.
"I think there are better ideas," Pelosi said. "I want to keep the door completely open to working with the president on the issue of energy independence and global warming. ... There are plenty of areas where we can find common ground."
Since Democrats took over Congress in January, both the House and Senate have proposed to push the nation more aggressively to reduce carbon emissions.
Pelosi set up a new House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and appointed Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., as its chairman. The committee cannot write legislation, but was created to study and offer recommendations on how to deal with global warming.
Markey said Saturday that contrary to the Bush administration, Europeans recognize the scientific consensus that the worst effects of global warming are yet to come if no action is taken.
"The administration needs to explain what alternative science it is still hanging its hat on, because most people believe that hat has already been blown away by overwhelming scientific evidence," Markey said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee recently approved a bill to obligate the administration to send senior diplomats to international meetings on climate change "with instructions to secure binding commitments for reform," according to a committee statement.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is pushing a nonbinding resolution that would press the administration to work on several diplomatic fronts to combat global warming.
Alternative science? Sheesh.