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Bush's Climate Charade

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, October 1, 2007; 1:50 PM

The novelty of President Bush appearing to take climate change seriously seems to have worn off, leaving journalists to examine what he actually proposed last week. It wasn't much.

Today Bush finds himself in an increasingly familiar position: Isolated, discredited, mistrusted and mocked.

John M. Broder writes in the New York Times: "President Bush said Friday that the nations that contribute most to global warming should all set goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. But he did not specify what those goals should be and repeated his stand that nations should not be held to mandatory targets for capping carbon dioxide emissions.

"At the close of a two-day meeting here of 16 major carbon-emitting nations, Mr. Bush also proposed an international fund to help developing nations benefit from clean energy technology. He instructed the Treasury Department to begin work on the proposal, but the administration offered no details. . . .

"The delegates to the conference listened impassively to Mr. Bush's 20-minute address, interrupting him with applause only once, when he pledged that the United States would participate in global warming negotiations overseen by the United Nations. . . .

"Mr. Bush quickly left the auditorium after delivering his remarks, which ended 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Some of the delegates, representing the major industrialized nations plus Brazil, China, India and South Africa, said they were less than impressed."

Peter Baker and Juliet Eilperin write in The Washington Post: "The conference represented the most serious effort Bush has made to play an international leadership role on climate change."

And yet, "[t]he much-anticipated speech disappointed critics looking for more tangible proposals. Daniel J. Weiss, an analyst at the liberal Center for American Progress, said Bush essentially was relying 'on waving a magic technology wand' with measures that 'won't make a dent in global warming.' John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA, said Bush's speech underscored 'his do-nothing approach to global warming' and proved that 'his position is a lie' that no one believes.

"'The president says his goals are aspirational, but his goals are really procrastinational,' said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of a new House committee on global warming. 'The U.N. is saying the planet is urgently sick, and the Bush administration is saying, "Take two aspirin and call me when I leave office." '"

Deborah Zabarenko and Jeff Mason write for Reuters: "Some of the world's biggest greenhouse polluters took aim at President George W. Bush on Friday, calling him 'isolated' and questioning his leadership on the problem of global warming. . . .

"'It is striking that the (Bush) administration at the moment in the international conversation seems to be pretty isolated,' said John Ashton, Britain's climate envoy. 'I think that the argument that we can do this through voluntary approaches is now pretty much discredited internationally.'"

Ewen MacAskill writes in The Guardian: "George Bush was castigated by European diplomats and found himself isolated yesterday after a special conference on climate change ended without any progress.


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