EU climate change efforts failing, says US envoy

Europe's carbon emissions trading system "simply isn't working", according to America's top diplomat to the EU, who has poured cold water on the idea that California might try to join a transatlantic scheme. In a defence of George Bush's record, C Boyden Gray, said the US was doing its share in tackling global warming and leading the world in developing technology to beat climate change.

His comments angered European environmental experts, one of whom described them as "plain wrong".

Mr Gray said: "Without China and India I don't think it [carbon trading] works. If you could get a structure that would bring them in, it's a whole new ballgame. You have to have them."

The US ambassador to the EU added: "This is why Europe is having so much trouble with their own emissions trading system. It's not working, it simply isn't working. Member states are rejecting the Commission's allocations because to do this unilaterally - or even if we were part of it, for the transatlantic to do it unilaterally - without India and China would just be to ship these jobs to where there are no costs. There are no controls for any pollutants in China so then traditional pollutants, fine particles, ozones get blown back over California."

In the US, there is growing interest in the idea of emissions trading among north-east and east coast states, and speculation that California might seek to join the EU scheme.

Asked whether that would be legally possible, Mr Gray replied: "I don't think so, no. I just don't think it's going to happen anyway."

He also rejected European perceptions that California's efforts on climate change put it out in front of the Bush administration.

Mr Gray said: "I don't think California is ahead of the federal government but I would suggest to you in response that Sweden is ahead of the European Commission. That's just a suggestion."

Mr Gray has a long association with the Bush family, and served as the White House legal counsel for George Bush Snr from 1989 to 1993. No stranger to ideological battles, he does not contest the science of global warming, arguing "the President hasn't changed his mind, he has consistently said the climate is warming and man has contributed to it."

He also agrees the issue has risen up the agenda and that "the two sides of the Atlantic are converging on this" while "climate change is becoming a matter of more awareness in the US". What he disputes, however, is Europe's superiority on environmental issues. He said: "I think we are doing our share... The commitment for biofuels is twice what Europe has proposed."

That did not convince European environmentalists. Tom Burke, visiting professor at University College, London, said: "He's plain wrong and it sounds like he's clutching at straws to defend an indefensible policy."

Mr Gray may not have endeared himself to Latvia's European Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, by mistakenly suggesting he comes from Lithuania.

Underlining the growing importance of a EU energy policy, Mr Gray said: "Two years ago when they set the current Commission up, nobody wanted energy. So it went to Lithuania. We are slighting Lithuania here but none of the bigger states wanted energy so it went to Lithuania. I think we are lucky because Piebalgs is really, really good so maybe they did everybody a favour."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Sales Advisor - OTE 18k-23k

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Ford's leading Parts Who...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to learn ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Lead

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading providers of w...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders