After years of denying the validity of climate change research and pulling the US out of the Kyoto Agreement, President Bush has set goals to increase the use of cleaner fuels.

True, the driver is largely the goal of reducing the economy’s dependence on foreign oil, but the result is the same – reduced fuel consumption. The targets are low, but they are a step in the right direction.

In his state of the union address to the US congress in Washington last night, Bush called for petrol consumption to be cut by up to 20% by 2017, though an increase in the use of ethanol and other alternative fuels, while raising car fuel-economy standards.

The president is proposing to set the amount of ethanol and other alternative fuels that must be mixed into the fuel supply at 35bn gallons by 2017, up from 7.5bn gallons in 2012.

In addition he said “we need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol – using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.”

In his speech Bush also asked congress for the authority to reform the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards – for passenger cars to reduce usage without affecting safety by an additional 8.5bn gallons in 10 years.

At the same time, however, the president called for stepping up domestic oil production. He also said he would seek to double the current capacity of the strategic petroleum reserve.