Sunday, May 20, 2007

20 more months of no U.S. action?

Despite the promising talk from the presidential candidates (see below) and the current Congress, there's still the matter of the current President when considering what might get done about global warming in the 20 months his administration has left.

If this article in the Washington Post (by Juliet Eilperin) is any indication: not much. The Bush administration is trying to weaken some mild language in a climate statement that is supposed to come out of a June G8 summit:
Negotiators from the United States are trying to weaken the language of a climate change declaration set to be unveiled at next month's G-8 summit of the world's leading industrial powers, according to documents obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.

A draft proposal dated April 2007 that is being debated in Bonn, Germany, this weekend by senior officials of the Group of Eight includes a pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The United States is seeking to strike that section, the documents show.

First, reducing emissions to 50% below 1990 by 2050 (still emitting in 2050, mind you, but only at half of 1990 levels) isn't enough to limit the rise to 3.6 degrees. But hey, you gotta crawl before you can walk so I'm willing to start there. But the Bush administration isn't.

The Eilperin piece had no counter-quotes from the administration, probably because they called on Saturday (good one!).

Compare that with this article two days later from the Washington Post by Steven Mufson and Michael Fletcher about fuel efficiency. The title sounds great: "Bush Calls For Cuts In Vehicle Emissions: Agencies Ordered To Draft New Rules". But the agency is the EPA which takes a long time to do anything. You have to read the article to find this fact:
"In effect, the president asked his agency heads to share ideas and come up with a plan that is due three weeks before he leaves office," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the new House select committee on climate change. Markey said that "will leave motor vehicle fuel economy stuck in neutral until Bush's successor takes office.

The article is appropriately negative to the administration. So why the sweetheart headline? Reporters who write the articles don't pick the headlines. Someone else usually does.

More on the G8 statement stonewalling from the Financial Times.

1 comment:

inel said...

Hi Rob,

Yesterday, the Guardian released more on the U.S. inaction and the G8 friction it generates, dragging the rest of the world down with America, in an article titled 'US rejects all proposals for climate change' and I "red-lined" it for the kids in my cover story here. The Bush administration is using clever language to create the appearance that it is way ahead of the world in working to combat climate change, when nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the U.S. spends more on IPCC funding and climate research, they say, than any other country, but what it gives with one hand it takes away with the other in terms of moral support for scientists and clarity of purpose.

In a peculiar twist, I received an alert today that the EPA website had changed its URL back in October 2006! I went to check the "new" website, as I was interested to read our government's climate change policy there (to see if it matched the Whitehouse webpage) and this is what I found:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/

leads to

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/policy/index.html

leads to

http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/global-change.html

which begins …

Addressing Global Climate Change
“The policy challenge is to act in a serious and sensible way, given the limits of our knowledge. While scientific uncertainties remain, we can begin now to address the factors that contribute to climate change.”

President George W. Bush
Discussion on Global Climate Change
June 11, 2001


If that is the latest EPA link through, and honest folk follow that trail, we are in deeper trouble than I thought! A subsequent search on the Whitehouse website for 'climate change' returns this as the top hit:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070207-5.html

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2007
Open Letter on the President's Position on Climate Change
Following last Friday’s release of a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a number of media reports perpetuated inaccuracies that the President’s concern about climate change is new. In fact, climate change has been a top priority since the President’s first year in office.

and so on …

It is true to say that climate change has been a top priority, but they cleverly do not state that it has been his top priority. Even if climate change had been, it could have ranked as his top priority to do nothing about it!

I am not even going to start on the way the words are spun for "slowing the rate of increase" of emissions and "per economic unit" when the science permits, because that is a right old cop out!