German Minister Attacks US Climate Policy | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 17.04.2008

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German Minister Attacks US Climate Policy

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel harshly criticized US President George Bush's policies to combat climate change, calling them "losership instead of leadership."

German Environment Minister Gabriel in front of a poster for Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth

Gabriel feels the US is not facing up to inconvenient truths

"The president has made a disappointing speech that does not match up to the global challenge," Gabriel said Thursday, April 17, in reference to Bush's announcement a day priop on US emissions policy.

In his speech, Bush called for the growth in US greenhouse gas emissions to be stopped by 2025 "and begin to reverse thereafter, so long as technology continues to advance."

Bush said this were "realistic goals," whereas "the wrong way is to raise taxes, duplicate mandates, or demand sudden and drastic emissions cuts that have no chance of being realized and every chance of hurting our economy."

The US president's words marked a backward step from the United Nations climate conference held in Bali in December, where the US delegation made a last-minute decision to support a final summit document after previously opposing it, Gabriel said.

A need for caps

US Persident Bush in front of a logo for the US Global Leadership Campaign

Bush isn't leading as far as Gabriel is concerned

The German environment minister criticized Bush's refusal to back legislation to cap greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Without binding upper limits and reductions targets for the industrialized countries, climate change will not be stopped," Gabriel said. "Europe and the US must take the lead if others are to follow.

"Instead, with his proposals, the president is limping hopelessly behind," he added. "We are glad that there are other voices in the US."

Stepping backwards

The environment minister noted that the third meeting of the 16 so-called Major Economies (MEM) (formerly Major Emitters Meeting) was taking place in Paris on Thursday and Friday, and said Bush's speech ran the risk of undermining a process initiated by the US itself.

MEM aims to draw together the Group of Eight (G8) countries with major developing economies, such as China, India and Brazil, to combat climate change. Together, the 16 countries account for some 80 percent of world greenhouse-gas emissions.

Bush proposed the initiative ahead of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in June last year as a counterproposal to the Kyoto Protocol and MEM was launched in September.

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