Published on Friday, June 17, 2005 by the Agence France Presse
US Pressure Weakening Proposed G-8 Curb on Global Warming
US pressure is weakening a proposal to curb world greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming that is to be discussed next week at the Group of Eight summit next month in Scotland, he Washington Post said.
Negotiators in the past month have agreed to delete language in the summit's final statement that details the mechanism of global warming, sets ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions and stricter environmental standards in World Bank-funded power projects, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.
One of the world's biggest contributors to global warming, the United States has striven to edit US government and international reports on the threat of climate change in support of its contention that mandatory carbon dioxide cuts are unnecessary.
Only last week, The New York Times reported that a former top White House advisor on environmental issues had watered down dire climate change warnings in US government reports -- the official has since taken a job with oil giant ExxonMobil Corp.
The so-called Kyoto Protocol, the first-ever international law on global warming, requires industrialized nations that have ratified it to slash emissions of greenhouse gas. But the United States and Australia have refused to ratify the 1997 treaty.
Although the scientific evidence is not conclusive, a growing number of scientists concur that man-made carbon dioxide is the chief contributor to a confirmed rise in the Earth's temperature in the past century.
The Washington Post gave an example of US-instigated changes in the G8 final statement on the environment: a section initially cited "increasingly compelling evidence of climate change, including rising ocean and atmospheric temperatures, retreating ice sheets and glaciers, rising sea levels, and changes to ecosystems."
It added: "Inertia in the climate system means that further warming is inevitable. Unless urgent action is taken, there will be a growing risk of adverse effects on economic development, human health and the natural environment, and of irreversible long-term changes to our climate and oceans."
Instead, the daily said, US negotiators substituted a sentence that reads, "Climate change is a serious long term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe."
The head of the Council on Environmental Quality told the daily that the deletions had to be viewed "in context," adding that there was a "strong consensus about a shared commitment to practical action."
Environmentalists and opposition Democrats were more critical.
US Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry told the daily: "The administration is pursuing a dangerous 'ostrich' policy: put your head in the sand and pretend nothing's happening."
Some experts are recommending that seven other members of the G-8 -- Britain, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia -- adopt their own global warming plan rather than accept the watered-down statement.
"The US will just not budge," said Hans Verolme, director of the World Wildlife Fund's US climate change program. "We'd rather not have a deal than have a deal that lets George Bush off the hook."
The British government is hosting the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland from July 6-8.
© Copyright 2005 AFP