The United States defended itself yesterday against charges of obstructing
progress at the Earth Summit and claimed to be a world leader in helping the poor.
But senior officials admitted that America was "not offering a huge amount of
money" to support the summit's 10-year plan of action, which aims to solve the
poor's environmental problems.
real new money on the table is zero. It is an old American government game. Take
money that has already been promised three or four times over and promise it a
Paula Dobriansky, the US under secretary for global affairs, claimed that America,
which is refusing to accept targets at the summit, was "the world's leader in
Miss Dobriansky outlined five initiatives America is proposing - including
a £634 million water for the poor initiative to expand access to clean water
and sanitation in developing countries - but declined to say from where the money
Suspicions were aroused that the Bush administration was promising money it
had previously pledged as part of the Monterrey conference on development aid,
in which America raised the proportion of GNP it gives in development aid for
the first time since the 1960s.
Officials named various large sums, such as £35 million for a Congo forest
partnership promoting better forest management over four years and an injection
of £800 million to combat HIV and malaria. But none would say whether this
funding came from the same Monterrey pot.
Andrew Natsios, the administrator of the Agency of International Development,
conceded that, as to new US help on offer, "It's not a huge amount of money."
Philip Clapp, of the National Environment Trust, a US-based environmental group,
said: "The real new money on the table is zero. It is an old American government
game. Take money that has already been promised three or four times over and promise
it a fifth time."
Of America's behaviour at the summit, he said: "The Bush administration has
been completely inflexible. The simple reason is that the Right wing of the Republican
party regards this summit as a second Rio and wants it killed in its cradle."
Tony Juniper, of Friends of the Earth, said America's claim to being a leader
in sustainable development was "breathtaking" coming after its repudiation of
the Kyoto climate treaty.
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, called on America yesterday to
ratify the Kyoto protocol, saying it was "the minimum standard that should be
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