British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are convening a series of high-profile meetings this week to discuss solutions to global climate change. Twenty-five chief executive officers of major corporations around the world will be in attendance, including the heads of BP, DuPont Co., and Goldman Sachs Group.
The Bush administration’s top environmental adviser received an informal invitation to attend the California-UK event, but White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton’s spokeswoman said he could not participate because of a scheduling conflict.
Connaughton’s spokeswoman, Kristen Hellmer, said the deal did not upset the Bush administration.
“This is just a wonderful amplification of the work that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair agreed to at the G8 last year,” she said. “This wasn’t a surprise.”
The meeting may not be a suprise, but it is an embarrassment for the administration. The agenda will focus on items that Bush pledged he would act on but hasn’t: 1) regulating carbon dioxide and 2) encouraging new, greener technologies.
Barry Rabe, a University of Michigan professor and an expert on U.S. climate policy at the state level, said the administration’s failure to attend sends the wrong message. “It suggests certainly in this instance the federal government is really conspicuous by its absence,” he said.