Friday, December 7, 2007

Neo-Cons Fail On Climate Change

Next week in Bali at the UN Climate Change Conference countries from around the world will be sending high-level delegations to represent them at UNFCCC COP. The meetings here in Indonesia are vitally important to the future of billions of persons and almost every government seems to be taking these talks very seriously. This is evident by the list of ministers that was released today to the public. Every country on the eleven page list appears to be sending their top level ministers that deal with environmental issues, the notable exception seems to be the United States. The UK is sending its Secretary of State, the EU sends the Commissioner for the Environment, senior Ministers of the Environment comes for Namibia, Sweden, Cambodia, Canada, Belgium, and the list goes on and on. A few smaller countries will send deputy or vice ministers, but the United States, seemingly thumbing its nose at the entire process sends Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky.

According to the US State Departments own website her position is seventh ranking in the Department of State, maybe sixth in rank if you consider that the position of Secretary of International Security is currently vacant. It comes as no surprise then that she is one of the original neo-cons, so much in fact that she is an original signatory on the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and if you don’t remember, these are the folks who started the conflict in Iraq. She has been a vocal proponent of the Bush’s administration to spread “democracy and human rights,” stating that “promoting human rights,… is the bedrock of our policy and our foremost concern.” This is the person who is going to help promote rapid action to tackle climate change on behalf of the United States, now the only industrial country in the west who has not signed the Kyoto Protocol. I’m not sure about you but this does not actually inspire a lot of confidence in the US climate change policy.

It seems that our administration remains out of sync with not only the rest of the world, but also with our own government on the Hill. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, made a very interesting remark at a closed meeting yesterday when he stated that he had just received a letter from ten chairs of various senate committees stating that the mood of the Senate is very different from views of the current administration. Clearly this disconnect is not just frustrating for the world, the citizens of the US but also our own government.

How can we achieve the 25%-40% reduction of emission and keep temperatures from rising less then 2 degrees as envisioned by the Bali conference when the largest western democracy which has only this year come on board to the reality of climate change still has its head in the sand? Please Mr. President, this is your one last chance to help change history in an incredibly positive way and erase in one fell swoop all the errors of the past seven years. “The eyes of the world are upon us” lets not let the planet down.

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