Bush wants to dilute the G-8’s statement on global heating

Posted on May 18, 2007

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According to this Washington Post article, the Bush Administration is negotiating to weaken the G-8’s statement on global heating. Some examples of what they’re trying to do, quoted fro the WashPost article:

The documents show that American officials are also trying to eliminate draft language that says, “We acknowledge that the U.N. climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change.”

They also proposed striking one of the document’s opening phrases, which says, “We underline that tackling climate change is an imperative, not a choice. We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living.”


Lovely, isn’t it? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come out with their reports that a) humans are causing global warming, b) the effects will be very, very unpleasant, and c) there are ways to mitigate the effects, yet the Bush Administration is undercutting the very conclusions that it itself signed off on – the rules of the IPCC reports state that the summaries for policymakers are consensus documents, so every government in the IPCC has approve them.

Well, now it appears that many committee chairmen and chairwomen in the House of Representatives have taken umbrage at the Administration’s attempted manipulations of the G-8. Fifteen different committee chairmen and chairwomen have written and signed a letter to President Bush that reads as follows:

May 18, 2007

Dear Mr. President:

We are deeply concerned about reports that the United States is seeking to weaken a proposed G-8 declaration regarding global climate change. We are writing to urge you to reverse course and strengthen the G-8 declaration. The United States must no longer delay action to address this major threat.

According to press reports, Administration officials are seeking to strike a pledge to limit the global temperature rise during this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.1

We have also learned that the Administration officials may be trying to delete sections of the declaration that call on the industrialized world to modify activities linked to recent warming and to delete one of the document’s opening phrases, which highlights the urgency of the necessary actions. This is a disappointing retreat after finally acknowledging the urgency of the issue just last month.

The scientific consensus tells us that it is too late to avoid some warming, but we may still have time to prevent dangerous warming. Preventing the global average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in comparison to pre-industrial levels must be a top priority. Scientific studies show that a 3.6 degree increase in global temperature could result in the extinction of nearly 30% of all living species, bleaching of much of the world’s coral, increased risk of the wider spread of diseases like malaria, more damage from floods and storms, and increased drought in already dry regions.2 To prevent this from occurring, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently suggested reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 85% below 2000 levels would be necessary.3

The G8 Summit should be an opportunity to galvanize international support for addressing this looming threat, not an opportunity to prevent and undermine international action. The leaders of the world’s largest economies must let the rest of the world know that they are serious about addressing the threat posed by global warming and are committed to meaningful action to reduce global warming pollution.

U.S. leadership is critical to tackling this global threat. Congress is now preparing to do its part. Support is growing for aggressive legislation to cap global warming pollution and cut it dramatically over the coming decades. But we need an Executive Branch that engages the rest of the world to solve this problem rather than stubbornly ignoring it.

Without strong leadership from our nation’s federal government, we will fall behind our economic competitors in the development of clean energy technologies and miss the economic opportunities to provide these technologies to world markets. We urge you to embrace these opportunities for economic growth and aggressive action, and to demonstrate America’s commitment to leading the fight against global warming by producing a strong G-8 declaration.

Sincerely,

1. U.S. Aims to Weaken G-8 Climate Change Statement, Washington Post (May 13, 2007).

2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 13 (April 2007).

3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change, 23 (May 7, 2007).

And the letter is signed by the following: Henry A. Waxman (Oversight and Government Reform), Tom Lantos (Foreign Affairs), Charles B. Rangel (Ways and Means), George Miller (Education and Labor), Bart Gordon (Science and Technology), Barney Frank (Financial Services), James L. Oberstar (Transportation and Infrastructure), John Conyers (Judiciary), Nydia M. Velázquez (Small Business), Louise M. Slaughter (Rules), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Standards of Official Conduct), Bob Filner (Veterans’ Affairs), Edward J. Markey (Energy Independence and Global Warming), David R. Obey (Appropriations), and John M. Spratt (Budget.)

Look at the committees represented – Ways and Means, Foreign Affairs, Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, and Budget aren’t exactly wimpy in terms of offical power in the House. Neither, for that matter, is Oversight and Government Reform.

Do I really expect that this letter will change Bush’s mind on this? Of course not. I don’t think that the signers, all Democrats, believe that either. I think they’re just going on record as opposing Bush’s suggested changes, and while that’s purely a political move, in this case it’s still the right thing to do.

Let us not forget that Bush is “The Decider,” and that the Administration is creating reality, not studying it:

[a Bush aide said] ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”(Source: NYTimes Magazine: Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush)

UPDATE: The mayors of 46 of the world’s biggest cities are calling for the G-8 to take a stand on global heating. Here’s the actual communique to the G-8 nations.

[Crossposted: The Daedalnexus]

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