BERLIN -- World leaders praised President Bush yesterday for taking a step forward on global warming in his State of the Union address, but added that concrete goals are needed to significantly reduce greenhouse gases.
The president's ideas on Iraq fell largely flat, however, amid criticism that his plan to send more troops doesn't offer anything new.
Bush's proposal to reduce US gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next decade, with tougher fuel economy standards and mandatory production of more ethanol and other alternative fuels, earned widespread praise as an important step in the fight against global warming.
"His remarks about climate change, his willingness to reduce energy consumption and to support alternative energy sources, will be welcomed in Europe in general, and in Germany especially," said Karsten Voigt, coordinator for the German government's relations with the United States. "It also has an impact for security policy because it diminishes our dependence on the oil-producing countries," Voigt said in a telephone interview.
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who has been urging the United States to do more on climate change, told the House of Commons he is optimistic after hearing Bush's speech. "I do believe this whole debate is now moving in a completely different and more positive direction," Blair said.
But others said that in failing to set specific targets for energy consumption, Bush did not go far enough to make an impact in the fight against global warming.
"It could have been even better if he had had more things to offer in relation to what American households and companies should do more of," said Denmark's environment minister, Connie Hedegaard.
Bush was widely criticized on Iraq, with critics saying he is sticking with a failed policy by sending more American troops.
The president "thinks there is a military solution to the Iraqi problem," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on LCI television. "We think exactly the opposite," he added, urging that foreign troops withdraw from Iraq.
Even in Japan's government, a supporter of the United States-led invasion in 2003, critics saw little evidence of a new Iraq strategy.
"President Bush's decision to enter the war against Iraq, based on the assumption that the weapons of mass destruction existed, was a mistake," said Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, an unusual rebuke from the top US ally in East Asia.
In Russia, a Kremlin-connected political analyst, Sergei Markov, told the RIA-Novosti news agency that the Iraq plan could make Bush "the worst president of the USA in the past 100 years."