Bush, Blair Still at Odds on Environment
Friday, July 8, 2005
GLENEAGLES, Scotland, July 7 -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair failed Thursday to reach agreement on international efforts to combat global warming, even as they responded with immediate solidarity to the attacks on London that overshadowed other issues.
On the first full day of meetings by the world's major industrial powers, Bush and Blair emerged from breakfast at this highlands golf resort to tell reporters that a new international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be at least seven years away.
"We're not going to negotiate some new treaty on climate change" at the economic summit held by the Group of Eight, or G-8, major industrialized nations, Blair told reporters. "What this is about is seeing whether it will be possible in the future to bring people back into consensus together. Can we do that? I don't know, but it's important that we at least begin a process of dialogue that allows us to make progress on this."
Blair, the summit host, had been celebrating Britain's victory on Wednesday for the right to stage the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. But he was struggling to win U.S. approval of his agenda here, and lobbied Bush to embrace the mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases contained in the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty on emissions standards that was rejected by Bush and the U.S. Senate. The United States is the only member of the G-8 that has not ratified the 1997 Kyoto treaty.
Bush appeared not to budge Thursday, warning that such compulsory standards could cripple the U.S. economy. "I also strongly believe that technologies and the proper use of technologies will enable the world to grow our economies, and at the same time, be wiser about how we protect the environment," Bush said.
If a consensus is not reached by 2012, when the Kyoto agreement expires, "then we've got a real problem for the future," Blair warned.
Nevertheless, governments at the summit worked on the draft of a joint statement about the warming climate and the dangers of man-made greenhouse emissions. "There is a consensus we need to move forward together," Bush said.
Faryar Shirzad, a top Bush adviser, said the joint statement will include Bush's goal of encouraging new technologies and cleaner-burning fuels immediately, as well as other steps to reduce global warming. The final document, which had been slated for release Thursday, was delayed until Friday because of the bombings.
The report of the bombings in London, meanwhile, dissuaded many protesters in Scotland from engaging in disruptive actions that have characterized other such meetings.
The London blasts "really shocked people -- they don't want to get involved in anything confrontational," said Rick Syers, a recent graduate of England's Sheffield University. Julie Keller, 23, a Norwegian student who lives in Brighton, England, agreed: "There's a big focus on being very peaceful, and getting the public to realize we have nothing to do with what happened."
Similar sentiments were echoed by other residents of the makeshift "eco-camp" in Stirling, about 10 miles south of Gleneagles, identified by police as the base for the most militant protesters who have mobilized against the summit. On Wednesday, several hundred protesters attacked cars and shops in the early morning; others formed human chains that shut down major roads, while still others scaled the fence surrounding Gleneagles during a march -- all of which ended in violent clashes with police.
But on Thursday morning, camp residents said, they met to discuss the implications of the events in London, and after about three hours of debate, a broad consensus was reached, although a few groups dissented. David Hotvedt, 24, a German student designated as a media spokesman, summarized their conclusion: "Because of the terrorist attacks, most of us have agreed there will be no direct action taking place. Everything will be of a peaceful nature, and there will be no confrontations with police." He emphasized that "98 percent" of the residents were inclined to nonviolent protest anyway.
The Gleneagles meeting brought together the leaders of the Group of Eight -- the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia. China and India, two of the world's emerging economic giants, were involved in the climate change talks. The presidents of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa also were present. The leaders focused on issues surrounding Iraq and aid to Africa in a series of private talks.
Bush, sporting a bandaged finger from a bike accident on Wednesday, opened and closed his remarks by poking fun at the spill. "It's a beautiful day for a bike ride," he told reporters.
The president blamed his high speed and a wet pavement for the crash that left him with several scrapes and the police officer he ran into with a sore ankle. "We were flying," he said.
"When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall, otherwise you're not riding hard," he said. "At the end of a good hour ride, the pavement was slick and the bike came out from underneath me, just like that person on the Tour de France the other day." Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said Bush saw his doctor Thursday morning and was fine.
The 59-year-old Bush said the accident reminded him of his limitations and to "act my age."
Blustein reported from Stirling.