Leading Article: Bush's hollow words on climate change


Anyone unacquainted with the White House's tactics over the years of sabotaging international efforts to combat climate change might be excused from taking some encouragement from this week's US-hosted conference in Washington.

The noises emanating from the meeting, which gathered together 16 of the world's most polluting countries, suggested progress. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stressed that all nations need to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and emphasised the necessity of developing new non-polluting technologies.

Few in the environmental movement would disagree with that. Most encouragingly of all, Ms Rice argued that this "growing problem" should be resolved under United Nations auspices. She even admitted that the US is "not above the international community on this issue". But when it comes to climate change it is important to pay attention to what political leaders do, rather than what they say. Despite Ms Rice's warm words, the Bush administration is not about to embrace a multilateral approach to mitigating climate change. This week's conference has been an exercise in public relations to benefit the White House, rather than a serious attempt to address the issue of global warming.

When it comes to policy, President Bush has barely shifted. The White House is still pushing for voluntary emission cuts, rather than the legally binding approach recommended by the UN. Ms Rice let the cat out of the bag when she argued: "All nations should tackle climate change in the ways they deem best." That is a recipe for inaction. Runaway climate change is too serious and urgent a threat to be dealt with in this piecemeal fashion. Clean technology is an admirable goal, but it is never going to be developed in the absence of a market framework that penalises existing carbon-emitting technologies.

There is only one show in town when it comes to responding to climate change on a global level. Representatives need to come together in Bali in December for the latest round of UN Climate Change Convention negotiations and agree on a successor to the Kyoto protocol. And that agreement must include mandatory emission cuts on all developed nations.

It is a relief of sorts that the White House is no longer in the business of denying that climate change is taking place. But the wretched and irresponsible stalling tactics of the world's biggest polluter show no signs of abating.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam