Bush stands firm on Kyoto pact
WASHINGTON TIMES | July 7, 2005
By James G. Lakely
GLASGOW, Scotland -- President Bush yesterday stood fast in his rejection of the Kyoto climate treaty, and the consensus document on climate change at this week's Group of Eight summit in Scotland is not likely to reflect the more urgent and radical view of many European powers.
Also, the summit is expected to respond to U.S. opposition and scale back some of the more extravagant promises made on African aid and debt relief, though the world's most industrialized nations are still likely to commit to doubling their assistance to the troubled continent.
In a joint press conference in Copenhagen on the eve of the summit with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Mr. Bush acknowledged that human activity is causing global warming.
"I recognize that the surface of the Earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem," Mr. Bush said. "I've also told our friends in Europe that Kyoto would have wrecked our economy.
"I don't see how you can be president of the United States and sign and agree to an agreement that would have put a lot of people out of work."
Mr. Bush said he sees a "better way forward" that doesn't restrict the growth of developed countries and so lets them create energy technologies -- such as hydrogen-powered automobiles -- that will create a cleaner environment in the long run.
"I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible," Mr. Bush said, referring to the climate treaty as something in the past.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has called climate change "probably the most serious threat we face," is host for this year's G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. He is determined to get the leaders of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and Italy to focus on global warming and fighting poverty and disease in Africa.
Mr. Blair said yesterday that he's "prepared to hold out for what's right" on global warming, but there are few indications that Mr. Bush will budge much further.
The Bush administration's lead diplomat for the summit, senior Deputy National Security Adviser Faryar Shirzad, suggested yesterday that the G-8 document on global warming will not meet Mr. Blair's expectations.
"Obviously, there are countries that are parties to Kyoto who have a certain perspective on the issue. We have our own approach to it," Mr. Shirzad said aboard Air Force One on his way to Scotland from Denmark. "But I'm hopeful that what you'll see by the end of the summit is a consensus view."
Michael Jay, Mr. Blair's representative in pre-summit discussions, took a similar line, predicting that the G-8 accord would recognize global warming as a problem that needs combating without making specific mandates.
Mr. Blair also wants the G-8 nations to double aid to Africa to $50 billion, from the current $25 billion, but he has complained that the U.S. has not met his goal of each rich nation contributing 0.7 percent of its GDP to the cause.
Mr. Bush responded by saying he would seek to double U.S. aid by 2010, to $8.6 billion from $4.3 billion in 2004 -- a figure that was already double the amount from before Mr. Bush's presidency. But meeting the 0.7 percent goal would require the U.S. to contribute $14 billion toward Mr. Blair's $50 billion target.
As a consequence, the summit's final communique was expected to drop any reference to a $50 billion goal in favor of talk more generally of a "doubling" of assistance, which would represent a disappointment to anti-poverty activists.
The president has agreed to cancel the debt of African nations, but has said the G-8 leaders must insist that corrupt governments reform as a condition to receiving more aid.
"We expect there to be good governance on the continent of Africa," Mr. Bush said. "I don't know how we can look our taxpayers in the eye and say this is a good deal, to give money to countries that are corrupt."
This year's summit has taken on the glow of celebrity, thanks to the Live 8 concerts around the globe last weekend, intended to focus attention on the plight of Africa.
Mr. Blair has met with concert organizer Bob Geldof and Bono of the Irish rock band U2. Mr. Bush meet with Bono yesterday. Both musicians -- normally among those who are highly critical of the president's foreign policy -- have heaped praise on him for his commitment to Africa.
Bono, however, expressed his disappointment that the goal of getting to that $50 billion number appears slim.
"A lot has been accomplished, but there is no sense that a real deal, a $50 billion number, we are not there on that," he said after meeting with Mr. Blair yesterday.
The summit has been marked by protests that began days before the official opening yesterday. Black-clad young men clashed with police in nearby Edinburgh as well as tiny hamlets near the resort town of Gleneagles. Demonstrators breached a section of police security fence, and 165 were arrested. According to Scottish police, 29 officers were injured, and although none were seriously injured, five required hospitalization.
Mr. Bush was greeted in Denmark on Tuesday by about 200 protesters who marched to the U.S. Embassy chanting anti-American slogans and burning Danish and U.S. flags.
A contingent of about 30 Danes, however, was seen walking through the streets holding "Bush/Cheney '04" campaign signs, passing out pamphlets that read "freedom isn't free" in Danish and singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and other U.S. patriotic songs.