WASHINGTON - September 25 - Yesterday, the United Nations convened a high-level global warming summit attended by top officials from more than 150 countries, including 80 heads of state. President Bush will host a meeting of 16 of the world's largest global warming pollution emitters later this week to discuss "aspirational" goals for reducing emissions. Rather than joining with virtually every other industrialized country to lock into place mandatory reductions, the president is expected to propose that each country decide for itself how to reduce emissions.
Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists:
"The vast majority of world leaders at yesterday's U.N. meeting were in agreement that the world must sharply curtail global warming pollution emissions by mid-century and that such reductions must be mandatory for industrialized nations such as the United States. The cost to make these reductions is small compared with the mounting costs of global warming-induced damages to both human communities and natural ecosystems.
"There was also broad consensus that while other processes can help, the U.N. is the only legitimate forum for negotiations on international agreements after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's first round of binding restrictions expire.
"The U.N. meeting's clarion call to action makes it even more clear that President Bush must put concrete proposals on the table in his speech at the State Department this Friday or risk confirming the belief that he is increasingly out of step with the rest of the world on strategies to confront this global threat.
"He must start by spelling out what reductions in global emissions he believes are needed by mid-century to avert severe, and potentially irreversible, consequences from climate change. If he disagrees with the European Union, Japan and many other countries that global reductions of at least 50 percent are needed by 2050, he should say so, and explain why he's willing to take a greater risk with the Earth's climate than they are.
"The president also must put forward specific new proposals to halt and reverse the inexorable growth in U.S. global warming emissions. In sharp contrast to Europe, Japan and other industrialized countries, U.S. emissions have increased by nearly 18 percent since 1990, and are projected to increase another 35 percent by 2030. This demonstrates the fallacy of the administration's claims that its mostly voluntary approach is working and will get the job done.
"If the president fails to make specific proposals for both long-term global and near-term U.S. emissions reductions, it will confirm the fears of some that his summit is merely an effort to delay, or even derail, meaningful international progress on confronting the climate crisis. It will make it abundantly clear to the entire world that President Bush is continuing to fiddle around while the world burns."