Saturday, September 29, 2007

Climate conference feedback

By Carol Gee

(White House photo)

The climate conference in Washington has not been smooth sailing for OCP. Our Current President's efforts to derail the global climate change movement are hopefully not going to have much effect. What do others think?

Making gas --
(9/28/07), headlined "
Bush: Nations Must Reduce Own Gases." The headline makes me grin, for some reason. But they played the story absolutely straight. To quote:

George Bush, the US president, has said that countries must find their own methods for reducing emissions that cause climate change.

In a White House sponsored-speech to 16 major polluting nations, Bush also proposed that state leaders meet for talks on climate change next year, while renewing his opposition to mandatory caps on emissions.

. . . The 16 nations gathered in Washington for the two-day conference are Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States.

The bus has already gone --
BBC News (9/29/07) put it succinctly this way: "
Bush climate plans spark debate." To highlight the UK's utterly dismissive view, I quote:

The British climate envoy, John Ashton, said the US seemed isolated on the issue of fighting climate change.

"I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally," he told the Reuters news agency.

Bigger than Bush --
The New York Times
included a bit in the conference story
regarding German opinion. Germany holds the presidency of the European Union this year, and has not been shy about leading the EU on the issue of climate change. Each country going its own way has no appeal to Europeans, or the rest of the world, for that matter. To quote:

But critics in Europe and elsewhere say that approach will allow countries to avoid the tough choices they say are needed to slow climate warming and temper its disruptive effects: a rapid retreat of sea ice, and precipitation changes that have brought droughts and floods, damaging crops.

They favor tough new standards under a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 170 countries but rejected in 2001 by President George W. Bush. The Kyoto pact expires in 2012. The Europeans and others are looking toward a U.N.-sponsored conference this December in Bali, Indonesia, to move closer to those goals.

In a speech at the U.N. earlier this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany made her view clear: Contributions to fighting climate change from individual countries or groups of countries were welcome, but could “never be a replacement for a post-Kyoto agreement under the umbrella of the United Nations.” She called for global emissions to be halved by 2050.

Who has the right idea --
Another President
is also having a big conference. Former President Bill Clinton's annual
Global Initiative elicited many energy and climate change commitments from members. Gideon Rachman's blog at the Financial Times (9/27/07), in a post titled "Gore: Climate change's Mr Realism," made an interesting point. To quote:

The last couple of days in New York have provided a chance to compare the styles of two presidents and a nearly-president. On Tuesday George W Bush spoke to the UN. On Wednesday, a few blocks from the UN, Bill Clinton opened his 2007 Clinton Global Initiative. And - in the opening session - he shared a platform with Al Gore. Rather to my surprise, I thought the famously wooden Gore gave the most impressive and charismatic performance of the three men - aided by the fact that the opening session of the CGI focused heavily on his special subject: climate change.

. . . By contrast, the man who pipped Gore to the presidency in 2000 still seems a little too relaxed about the problem. It is true that President Bush has moved on the issue. He now frankly acknowledges that there is a big problem, that mankind has contributed to global warming and that carbon-emissions need to be cut. But he is still resisting the idea of binding, international targets. Bush is about to convene his own global warming summit in Washington. But many people at the UN and at the Clinton Global Initiative still see the Bush administration's approach as a distraction and an impediment to a genuine global agreement. If Gore is right about the polar ice cap, even one more year without real American leadership on global warming is a big worry.

Greenland's glaciers tell the tale --
Speaker Nancy Pelosi's website
makes the point that the cliche, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is true. Rather than being an obstacle like OCP - in effect "fiddling while Greenland melts," Pelosi cared enough about the problem to go see for herself.

Meanwhile, the Russians are going about claiming the Arctic. At Ria Novosti's website, you can catch up with the "Russian Arctic mission."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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