Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Climate Change Leadership

A recent Washington Post article entitled "Bush Steps Out Front on Climate Issue" reveals that he is actually doing nothing of the sort. Well, perhaps he is "stepping out in front," if by "stepping out in front," it really means "getting in the way."

Top Bush administration officials said the president is not planning to alter his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gases or to stray from his emphasis on promoting new technologies, especially for nuclear power and for the storage of carbon dioxide produced by coal plants.
One European official, who asked not to be identified for fear of jeopardizing the talks, said he fears that the Bush administration's aims for next week amount to "a necessary but not sufficient agenda" for negotiators preparing for Bali.

"If it looks like this is setting a ceiling for Bali, rather than a floor, then the Europeans will have difficulty with this," the official said. "It's not yet clear how this will turn out."
In other words, Bush's intervention in this week's talks at the U.N. is likely to waste the time of leaders who actually want to accomplish some concrete results to stem climate change. Perhaps it is a good thing that his attendance at the summit will be minimal:
President Bush won't miss the dinner but otherwise will be notably absent from this week's meeting of world leaders on climate change at the United Nations--leaving the international organization once again trying to steer global action without the presence of one of the largest contributors to the climate change problem.

Instead, Bush will host his own party--a "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change"--late this week in Washington. It's the summit Bush announced in June when he successfully blocked leaders of the eight largest industrialized nations from adopting binding targets for reductions in carbon emissions. Instead, Bush and other G-8 leaders agreed, in principle, on the need to make "substantial" cuts in the troublesome emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. And in the Bush administration's briefings with industry and environmental stakeholders over the past few weeks, it is clear that the president hopes to push world leaders at his summit toward a "goals-not-mandates" approach.
Whether Bush's meeting will produce real results remains to be seen. Like the New Scientist, I am not optimistic about the chances. While Bush stalls, the climate news keeps getting worse:
It seems that we could use some action. Most of the world agrees.