A clear message to US President George Bush projected on the Washington Monument.
Bush must have missed the reports by the Noble Prize winning
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The IPCC
unequivocally says that global emissions need to peak within the
next 10 years at the latest. Ten years, not 17!
Bush's plan for after 2025 is also lamentable. Bush says, the US
may cut emissions, if coal can be made clean, nuclear power is safe
- and pigs can be genetically engineered to fly. This is a woefully
inadequate response by an administration that has obstructed global
efforts to tackle climate change at every opportunity.
Bush arrived as an oil man from Texas at the White House in
2001. He leaves as an oil man from Texas in 2009.
Bush made his speech on the occasion of the
Major Emitters Meeting (MEM) currently underway in Paris. This
US-driven initiative, launched last year, brings together 16
countries that collectively emit over 80 percent of global
emissions to discuss climate change. But the MEM, like Bush's
speech, is nothing but an attempt by the Bush administration to
deflect attention from its shameful record on tackling climate
Binding emission targets for industrialised countries are the
basis of any meaningful global agreement to fight climate change.
France said as much at the last climate summit in Bali last
December. Climate talks that don't result in binding targets for
industrialised countries are meaningless, France said. Which begs
the question - why is French President Sarkozy hosting this useless
McCain, Obama and Clinton all support binding emission
reductions for the whole US economy. That is good news, because
Bush is a 'lame duck' and will be out of office when the next
global climate agreement will be made in Copenhagen in 2009.
Countries attending the MEM, must listen to Noble Peace Prize
Laureate, Desmond Tutu. In a statement supporting Greenpeace's
position on the MEM he reminds rich world leaders of their
"Many rich world leaders have not, so far, responded to the
climate crisis with the urgency required. Cushioned and cosseted,
they have had the luxury of closing their minds to the real impact
of what is happening in the fragile and precious atmosphere that
surrounds the planet we live on.
"I wonder how much more anxious they might be, if they depended
on the cycle of mother nature to feed their families. How much
greater would their concerns be if they lived in slums and
townships, in mud houses, or shelters made of plastic bags? In
large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a reality. The poor, the
vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh edge of climate
change every day of their lives. …
"At the Major Economies Meeting in Paris, developed countries
must commit to immediate action against climate change. The United
Nations need to deliver an action plan to save the planet at the
climate change conference in 2009. There is no time to be
distracted from the urgent task to deliver this global rescue plan.
The world is watching, and those who are feeling the impacts of
climate change today, are expecting decisive action - now."
As an attendee of the MEM, South Africa's environment minister
immediately condemned Bush's speech by saying: "There is no way
whatsoever that we can agree to what the US is proposing, which
means that the fundamental distinction between developed and
developing countries should be erased and that we should turn a
blind eye to historical responsibility for the problem. In effect,
the US wants developing countries that already face huge poverty
and development challenges to pay for what the US and other highly
industrialized countries have caused over the past 150 years. We
are willing to do our fair share to address the climate challenge,
but not to carry a part of the US's burden."
The countries participating in Bush's meeting are: Japan,
France, Germany, Italy, the UK, China, Canada, India, Brazil, South
Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesian, and South Africa. The
countries most at risk from impacts of climate change - such as
small island developing states like Tuvalu - are not even invited
to be at the table.
Arieta Moceica of Greenpeace Australia Pacific said from Suva,
Fiji: "While small islands like my own are sinking, Bush and
Sarkozy are wasting everyone's time in Paris at talks that fail to
deliver the rapid emissions reductions we need. The Paris talks
behind closed doors are nothing but a slap in the face of those
already suffering from climate change today."
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