Sunday, May 13, 2007

Climate change: G8 down with the US?

There is an interesting story on the BBC website, about the Bush Administration's attempts to decaf the G8 Summit communiqué language on climate change. This year's G8 Summit will take place June 6-8 in Germany.

The BBC's Environment correspondent Richard Black recalls that in 2005, G8 negotiations on climate change "grew weaker" as discussions unfolded.

The # 1 rule in multilateral environmental negotiations on issues that the White House does not like is to watch out for the US Government's tactic (predating the Bush Administration), which consists in bringing down all other countries (who tend to go along by fear of going home with no consensus) to the lowest common denominator determined by Washington. Once everyone is trapped and has agreed to unambitious targets or uncompromising words the US very often drop out and announce that they cannot bind themselves anyway. That's what I called the race to the bottom in an op'ed I wrote immediately after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, when I was still acting on behalf of Greenpeace International.

The Bush Administration is pulling that trick again for this year's G8 Summit. But it's good to see in the BBC story that the Washington-based National Environmental Trust (NET) argues that it is preferable for the rest of the G8 leaders to make a deal that works for the environment without the US, and to let them decide later whether they want to join or not.

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