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New Spin on Old Strategy

Rolf Wenkel (ncy)
June 1, 2007

Just before the G8 summit, the US presented a strategy to fight climate change. President Bush said the greatest producers of harmful emissions would agree on common goals by late 2008. DW's Rolf Wenkel was unimpressed.


To put it bluntly: The washed-up inhabitant of the White House hasn't learned a thing. This time, too, his ideas are far behind those of the German G8 presidency -- and of the international community to set a decisive course against the threatening climate catastrophe.

In Heiligendamm, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to move the eight leading industrial countries toward binding maximum limits for greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the rise in global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) at most. To reach that goal, worldwide carbon dioxide emissions would have to fall by 50 percent by 2050 compared to the level in 1990.

However, the biggest CO2 emitter on earth continues to avoid responsibility: Thus Bush proposes that the United States should only start to draft long-term aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the autumn. Each government would then decide for itself how to achieve these aims. Allegedly, China and India, which are merely onlookers at the G8 summit, have already signaled their agreement.

That may be the case. Still, Bush, who has been a failure on every level of policy, is offering nothing more than a new spin on an old strategy. He staves off the international community until fall, with a single press conference debases all the resolutions on the issue prepared for Heiligendamm, and, as he has for years, trusts US industry, with its technological edge, to set things straight -- the main thing being that economic growth is healthy.

Bush appears to be blind. He's blind to the 13 US states that combined their efforts in a climate protection initiative. He's blind to the innumerable US cities that have long been ignoring the brakesman in the White House. He's blind to companies like General Electric or General Motors that want to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent. Who still takes this man seriously?

In an initial appraisal, Merkel described the president's initiative as an "important statement" ahead of the meeting in Heiligendamm. What else could she do? The rug is being pulled out from under her feet, 12 months of hard bilateral and multilateral negotiations on climate protection may have been wasted, but still, Merkel has to remain diplomatic. She faces a pile of broken glass. But she didn't cause the damage. Rather, it was a provincial politician from Texas, who has long imagined he knows something about world politics.

Rolf Wenkel is a business expert at Deutsche Welle Radio

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