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Whitman to Bush: Global Warming Is Serious Issue

In a private memo to President Bush, EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman urged him to recognize global warming as a serious international issue -- just days before the president reneged on his campaign pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions at the nation's power plants. The full text of the memo follows:

UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460


March 6, 2001

THE ADMINISTRATOR

MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT

FROM: CHRISTIE WHITMAN

SUBJECT: G-8 MEETING, TRIESTE

Having just returned from Italy and the G-8 meeting I thought I would pass on a few observations of the International Community and global climate change.

First: This was a precursor to two meetings to which you and other heads of state will be invited: Bonn in July and Johannesburg in 2002. It is safe to assume that there will be head of state participation in at least one if not both meetings.

Second: The World Community (EU; Umbrella group made up of US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (as an observer); and the G-77 or developing countries) are all convinced of the seriousness of this issues and the need to act now.

Third: The Kyoto Protocol is the only game in town in their eyes. There is a real fear in the international community that if the US is not willing to discuss the issue within the framework of Kyoto the whole thing will fall apart. They feel that they can move ahead toward their goals on their own, but would need the U.S. to really get things done.

Fourth: For the first time the world's religious communities have started to engage in the issue. Their solutions vary widely, but the fervor of the focus was clear. Of course this has been an issue for the NGOs for awhile.

As you can see from the attached highlighted clips, I had varied success in buying us time to fully engage in these discussions. From a political perspective I believe that we are in a position to build some good will while not endorsing the specifics of Kyoto. Expectations are low for this Administration.

I would strongly recommend that you continue to recognize that global warming is a real, and serious issues.

While not specifically endorsing the targets called for in Kyoto, you could indicate that you are exploring how to reduce U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions internally and will continue to do so no matter what else transpires.

Mr. President, this is a credibility issue (global warming) for the U.S. in the international Community. It is also an issue that is resonating here, at home. We need to appear engaged and shift the discussion from the focus on the "K" word to action, but we have to build some boneifides first.

We did win some issues at this meeting i.e., recognizing cost, promoting children's health, and fending off some last minute end runs by the Germans and Japanese.

I'm available to discuss this further if you want.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company


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