Monday, May 14, 2007

The malevolent hegemon: President Bush, global warming, and the enabling of genocide

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Once again, it is the United States -- and specifically the Bush Administration -- that is actively working to block efforts to curb global warming. And not efforts by radical environmental groups, mind you, but efforts by the world's leading industrialized (or post-industrialized, depending on how you look at it) nations:

The US is trying to block sections of a draft agreement on climate change prepared for next month's G8 summit, according to documents seen by the BBC.

Washington objects to the draft's targets to keep the global temperature rise below 2C this century and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The draft, prepared by the German G8 presidency, said action was imperative.

With UN talks struggling to extend the current Kyoto targets, the G8 summit is seen as a vital way to regain momentum.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has made climate a priority for the organisation, with backing from other leaders including Tony Blair.

And what are the objections?

A clause saying "climate change is speeding up and will seriously damage our common natural environment and severely weaken (the) global economy... resolute action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions" is struck out.

So are a statement that "we are deeply concerned about the latest findings confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)", and a commitment to send a "clear message" on international efforts to combat global warming at the next round of UN climate talks in December.

US negotiators also want to remove from the draft firm targets for improving energy efficiency in buildings and transport, and a call for the establishment of a global carbon market.

So: The U.S. (i.e., the Bush Administration) does not think (or does not want to admit) that global warming is getting worse or that it will harm the environment and the economy, does not think that action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, does not accept the findings of the IPCC, and intends to block sensible international efforts to deal with the problem.

There you have it.

Much of the rest of the world -- particularly the world's major democracies -- is turning its attention to the most pressing crisis of our time, a crisis that will affect generations to come, but, with Bush in the White House, the U.S. not only has no interest in doing anything about global warming itself, it doesn't want any concerted action to be taken by anyone else either.

This is the height of stupidity and irresponsibility. Given the likely consequences of global warming, one would not be wrong to call Bush, who must ultimately be held accountable for this, an enabler of future genocide.

The rest of the world, and certainly the rest of the G8, would do well to move forward with or without the U.S. A new president, in 2009, could bring the U.S. back into the community of responsible nations on global warming, but, for now, it seems that the world's only major superpower has chosen to play the role of malevolent hegemon on the one issue that matters most.

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