Bush Shuns Global Warming Conference
Canada's 10-day UN climate control conference began yesterday, with 10,000 experts from 180 nations discussing how to slow the dangerous effects of greenhouses gases and global warming. Kicking off the conference, Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion said climate change is the single most important environmental issue facing the world today. Guess who didn't bother to show up?
Dr Harlan L Watson, senior climate negotiator for the US Department of State, said that while president George W Bush declined to join the treaty, the US leader takes global warming seriously. He noted greenhouse gas emissions had actually gone down by 8% under Bush.
"With regard to what the United States is doing on climate change, the actions we have taken are next to none in the world," Watson told the Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference.
Watson said the United States spends more than $5 billion a year on efforts to slow the deterioration of the earth's atmosphere by supporting climate change research and technology, and that Bush had committed to cutting greenhouse gases some 18% by 2012. The United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, saying it would harm the US economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economic powers such as China and India.
Not only did Bush refuse to make an appearance, his administration has ruled out making extra pledges to fight global warming beyond 2012.
Environmentalists accused Washington of doing too little to fight a rise in temperatures from human activities that could lead to more storms, expanding deserts and worse floods, and could raise sea levels by up to three feet (one meter) by 2100.
Bill Hare, climate policy director of Greenpeace, called the United States the "fly in the ointment" at the conference. "The failure of the United States to be willing to discuss future action here is the real issue," he said, predicting Washington will only join a global pact after Bush leaves office.