Not content with simply remaining outside the international agreements on climate change, the Bush administration is now trying to block other countries from making progress without it.
The American delegation staged a dramatic walkout last night in a bid to scuttle the entire U.N. climate change conference in Montreal. The theatrics were billed as a protest of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s harmless remarks from Wednesday. (Martin said, “To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say there is such a thing as a global conscience, and now is the time to listen to it.”) Compounding the embarassment, the U.S. delegation actually had to first walk in to the negotiations before they could “walk out,” because they hadn’t been regularly attending the meetings.
U.S. frustrations aren’t based in substance: the U.S. delegation rejected language that was lifted directly from the G8 communiqu© that President Bush himself signed in July. Rather, the problem is that this week’s negotiations reinforced that the Bush administration is more isolated than ever in dealing with global climate change. Simply put, the U.S. delegation recognizes that the rest of the world is making progress, and it is pulling out all the stops in order to keep that from happening.
UPDATE: The tantrum continues: “Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.”
UPDATE II: The AP reports this morning “More than 150 nations agreed Saturday to launch formal talks on mandatory post-2012 reductions in greenhouse gases – talks that will exclude an unwilling United States. For its part the Bush administration, which rejects the emissions cutbacks of the current Kyoto Protocol, accepted only a watered-down proposal to enter an exploratory global ‘dialogue’ on future steps to combat climate change. “