The Financial Times has managed to be too polite. A more accurate title for this story would be “United States Again Refuses to Commit to Anything Regarding Global Warming.” Now this continuation of the US head-in-the-sand posture might be fine if the Administration hadn’t raised expectations by agreeing to a climate change summit. So its signals are very confusing, to say the least. And in a further instance of bizarre behavior, Boyden Grey, the American ambassador to the EU, claims that future administrations won’t change their position on global warming (the excuse is that the US won’t make any commitments until China and India do so). What he is asserting is patently absurd, but it illustrates how the Bushies resort to rhetorical extremes in a vain attempt to mask their lame duck status.
But more important, it’s another instance of the Administration dealing in bad faith, reminiscent of the post-midterm election pledges of bipartisanship that were all too soon broken. And Big Lies are in evidence too, in claiming that the US has tougher emission standards than Europe, and that the US is “at the forefront” of clean technologies.
From the Financial Times:
The European Union and the US are locked in a dispute over climate change, days before a showpiece summit intended to display co-operation between the two.
Diplomats say US and European officials have yet to agree the wording for a declaration on energy security and climate change intended to accompany the Washington summit next Monday. One official said 50 per cent of the declaration still had not been agreed.
The US’s long-standing resistance to caps on carbon emissions also continues to frustrate the EU, which is eager to move towards a framework to replace the Kyoto protocol after 2012 and has already promised to reduce its own emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
The summit is due to be attended by US President George W. Bush, Angela Merkel, German chancellor, and José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president.
“We insist on the connection between energy policy and climate change,” said Catherine Colonna, France’s Europe minister, after an EU meeting this week. She added she believed it essential to address the question of energy policy after 2012: “The planet and the future of humanity are threatened by global warming.”
The World Health Organisation is finalising data forecasting that deaths linked to even a very narrow number of causes most closely connected to shifting weather patterns and will reach more than 300,000 a year by 2030.
But in an interview with the Financial Times, C. Boyden Gray, US ambassador to the EU, said Europeans were mistaken if they expected a shift in US climate change policy, even after the Bush administration.
“I don’t think it matters which party controls the White House or the Congress,” he said. “The Democrats have signalled very, very strongly in the House of Representatives that the world will have to have China and India engaged before there will be any legislation coming out on climate change.”
The US has long argued that it would be futile for Washington to sign up to mandatory limits on carbon emissions unless the fast-growing economies of China and India also did so.
Mr Gray’s words will come as a disappointment to European governments such as Germany and the UK, which hope the US will change its stance on climate change, as has already occurred in a growing number of US states and municipalities, notably California, which has introduced mandatory caps for carbon emissions.
Mr Gray said the US, which had tougher rules on vehicle emissions than Europe, was at the forefront of providing a technical solution to the challenges of climate change. He argued that the EU ought to devote more attention to clean coal technology.
“We are doing the research at the clip of $5bn, $6bn a year, for the technologies that will be absolutely essential to win this war, and that is the question of carbon capture,” he said of the US. “We are the ones who are spending the money.”
He added that both the US and the EU were worried that Russia “won’t be able to deliver on its commitments [to supply gas to Europe] because of lack of investment in its infrastructure”. He said investment in coal could protect the EU from relying too much on Moscow. “The best competitor of Russian gas could very well be clean coal,” he argued.
In the summit declaration, the Bush administration wants to focus on cutting energy use to reduce dependency. “The motivation does not matter, as long as the goal is the same,” said Mr Gray.