Bush - Monumental failure on climate change

Feature story - 29 January, 2008
In his State of the Union address last night, Bush made it clear what we've been saying all along: He has no plan to fight global warming, and is set on leaving a legacy of neglect, obstruction and destruction when it comes to climate change. On the eve of Bush’s bogus "Major Emitters Meeting", activists have taken to the US capitol to call attention to Bush’s disastrous policies and his plan to put a wrench in the UN's process.

Greenpeace activists project a message to US President George Bush on the Washington Monument.

Major Economies Meeting a Sham

After being booed and jeered in Bali for trying to block a successful outcome at the UN's meeting on climate change there last month, the Bush administration continues to push its alternative Major Economies Meeting (aka Major Emitters Meeting) this week in Hawaii.  The administration hopes to use this side meeting as an opportunity to replace the Kyoto Protocol's legally binding emissions reductions with voluntary measures only.

If the President was serious about leading the fight on global warming, he would stop trying to block the success of the UN process and commit to a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the US.  Instead, he continues to keep the United States standing alone as the only industrialized country that refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Monumental Disaster

Greenpeace activists gathered on the National Mall the night before the Major Economies Meeting and turned the Washington Monument into a memorial to Bush's failed legacy on global warming.  

The activists projected on the Washington Monument the message, "U.S. Global Warming Plan: Hell and High Water", accompanied by an image depicting rising sea levels at the base. Ironically, rising sea levels from global warming threaten the very picturesque islands, like Bali and Hawaii, the Bush administration is fond of visiting to talk and do nothing.

Why "volunteerism" is a failed policy

Binding emission targets for industrialized countries are the basis of any meaningful global agreement to fight climate change. Bush just wants to cross his fingers and hope that technological progress saves us. All he is willing to tell the world is: "Hey, guys, we will do our best". That will not be good enough.

As the German Chancellor Angela Merkel observed last year, "I don't believe that it's enough to just agree that everyone will do their best. I don't believe that would yield an impressive result."

And right she is. In 2002, Bush set a voluntary target of reducing US energy intensity 18 percent by 2012. But greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase by 12 percent over that period. Voluntarism simply doesn't work.

All of the leading Democratic Presidential candidates and two of the three top Republican candidates support binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions through a cap and trade system.  US businesses also support binding emission caps. More than two dozen of the largest US companies - such as Ford, General Electric, GM, Dupont, Duke Energy and Chrysler - are calling for domestic cap and trade legislation to start cutting American emissions now.

Bush is a 'lame duck' and will be out of office when the next global climate agreement will be made in Copenhagen in 2009.

The world can't afford falling for Bush's Hawaii distraction. Countries attending the meeting should resist Bush's ploy and commit to real climate action now.

The countries participating in Bush's meeting are: Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, China, Canada, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesian, and South Africa.  While 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.


To maintain its independence, Greenpeace accepts no donations from corporations or governments. We rely entirely on support from millions of people like you.