|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
resident Bush's reversal on a campaign pledge to restrict power plants' carbon dioxide emissions and reaffirmation of his objections to the Kyoto Protocol--conveyed in his March 13 letter to Senate Republicans--inflamed the foreign press, with observers in Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Hong Kong expressing outrage and resentment. Although left-leaning and liberal outlets were the most strident critics of Mr. Bush's message, center-right and even some conservative papers also registered strong disapproval of the president's "negative attitude on climate protection." Many were dismayed that the president had "reneged" on a campaign promise at the expense of "undermining" and "humiliating" EPA Administrator Whitman, who had just reassured her counterparts of U.S. support for mandatory reduction targets at the G-8 Environmental Ministers Meeting in Trieste. While sparing no ink in lambasting the "impudent and unscrupulous" president with charges of "spinelessness" and "ignorance," the major reflex of the European press was to stew over the impact this "180 degree turnaround" would have not only on the July climate change conference in Bonn, but also on the future of the Kyoto Protocol. With or without the U.S.--the "worst climate sinner" as an Oslo daily put it--on board, most saw nothing but "bad omens" and "bleak prospects" ahead for climate protection. Selected themes follow:
'ARROGANCE AND INDIFFERENCE:' Many analysts perceived the "broken promise" on CO2 reductions as a sign that the U.S. was putting its own interests first, and as a show of "American arrogance toward the rest of the world." According to Paris's Catholic La Croix, "President Bush sees only as far as his own country and its economic interests." Further galled, London's liberal Guardian quipped: "Even by U.S. standards," Mr. Bush's decision was "breathtakingly irresponsible." Some worried that U.S. indifference toward the Kyoto Protocol would ruin any chances for further progress on climate negotiations.
'CAVING IN' TO OIL AND BIG BUSINESS: Most shared British papers' cynicism that the president's "turnaround" was politically motivated by the "oilman-turned president's" ties to "big business in general and big energy in particular," especially the "companies that bankroll his party." Following up on this point, a Finnish daily suggested it was "payback time for the Republicans." Others saw the U.S. motion as a dangerous precedent that would, as Vienna's liberal Der Standard averred, give "heavy industry carte blanche for reckless growth."
IGNORING THE EVIDENCE: Many observers were incensed that President Bush cited the "incomplete state of scientific knowledge" on global warming as a reason not to support CO2 caps, while in effect putting the price and supply of energy ahead of "our planet's health." Rio's conservative O Globo warned that the U.S. greenhouse gamble was "an extremely risky bet, not to say an imprudent one." Putting the prevailing concern in a nutshell, a Finnish writer argued the issue is not the price of energy, but rather "the issue is making sure that the planet has a future."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 40 reports from 28 countries, February 20-March 21, 2001. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "President Bush's U-Turn Exposes His Irresponsibility"
The centrist Independent opined (3/16): "The only merit of this first U-turn of the new administration is that it pulls away Mr. Bush's mask. During the campaign he advocated mandatory reduction targets, stressing the contrast with the voluntary cutbacks sought by the avowedly environmentalist Al Gore. The oilman-turned-president, however, is now revealed for what he always has been: an unquestioning ally of big business in general, and big energy in particular. Otherwise the reversal bodes nothing but trouble. The United States has signaled its indifference to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sought to curb greenhouse gases. Mr. Bush has killed hopes of breaking the impasse that wrecked the recent Hague conference on global warming, and has exacerbated a major economic dispute with Europe. He has undercut at least one cabinet member, and upset moderates in his own party, as well as utility companies that had accepted an orderly and predictable passage to lower emissions. The conclusion can only be that Mr. Bush is neither willfully blind nor a panderer--but both."
"The White House Effect: Where Money Talks, Green Values Crumble"
According to the liberal Guardian (3/16): "Even by U.S. standards, George Bush's politically inspired decision to renege on his election pledge to 'establish mandatory reduction targets' for carbon emissions is breathtakingly irresponsible. The Clinton-Gore record on the 1997 Kyoto accord to combat global warming was pretty feeble. But Mr. Bush has now outdone them for spinelessness, caving in to lobbying from the energy companies that bankroll his party (the coal industry alone slipped $1.4m into Republican coffers in 1999-2000) and from senior members of his divided administration, like oil-man vice president, Dick Cheney. Mr. Bush has broken a commitment he cynically used to trump the green-ish Al Gore; he has undermined his environment chief, Christine Whitman and treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill; he has again embarrassed the hapless Colin Powell, who recently gave assurances that the United States was serious about climate change; and he has enraged EU countries and Japan, while simultaneously making a fool of UN boss Kofi Annan, who urged tougher action on carbon emissions in Dhaka only this week.... There are still ways forward. The Kyoto talks are due to resume this summer. Democrats and moderate Republicans are pursuing carbon regulation in bills in Congress in defiance of Mr. Bush. And international pressure can and must be intensified. The EU's Stockholm summit next week should tell this president plainly: don't be an ass on gas."
FRANCE: "Bush: A Convert To Pollution"
Pascal Riche in left-of-center Liberation (3/20): "George W. Bush has just buried his only campaign promise on the environment. But his decision is hardly a surprise. After all, his campaign was for the most part financed by the energy industry and he has never showed much concern for the greenhouse effect.... Inside the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was a former oil company executive, has been doing his own groundwork.... It was not difficult to convince Bush.... Today, reactions to his turnaround have crossed party lines. A bipartisan congressional group is working on a bill to regulate gas emissions."
"Bracing For A Real Battle On The Environment With U.S."
On TF One television, Ulysse Gosset had this commentary (3/16): "President Bush's turnaround is a concern because the president also wants to renegotiate the Kyoto Protocol.
The Europeans are right to be worried and must be ready for a real battle on the environment with the United States."
Dominique Quino wrote in Catholic La Croix (3/16): "Last November in The Hague, negotiators were right to want a speedy agreement with the United States.... President George W. Bush's hostility to concessions was known.... While his latest remarks were right on target with the prognosis, they have appalled those who are watching over our planet's health.... President Bush sees only as far as his own country and its economic interests. Obviously, it is much easier to raise barriers against dangers coming from abroad, such as foot-and-mouth disease, than protecting others from one's own dangerous behavior.... Would it be an insult to invite the president of the United States to open his eyes? Not only to include the rest of the world, but future generations, United States included."
"Bush 'Legalizes' Carbon Dioxide Emissions"
Jean-Jacques Mevel wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/15): "Backing down under pressure from the industry lobby confirms that the United States stands apart from the rest of the world in its fight against climate change. It is also the end of the Republicans' honeymoon with the environmentalists.... At the heart of the problem lie the power plants and their emissions...but also Bush's reticence concerning 'scientific proof'.... Behind his arguments, there is also a political reality: now that the campaign is over, the Bush administration is more attentive to the business world than to environmentalists.... In backing out, Bush has also given in to those who feel that the United States must not have its policies dictated by the international community."
GERMANY: "Bush's Climate Change"
Joachim Mueller-Jung noted in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/16): "President Bush presumably knows that he has the support of a large majority of citizens. His reasoning that reducing carbon dioxide emissions would lead to higher energy prices because coal-burning plants would have to be replaced by more expensive gas power plants is surely convincing to many of his compatriots. His second argument, that restrictive emissions regulations might exacerbate the danger of energy shortages, is inconsistent with credible data. But the dramatic energy crisis in California a few weeks ago is still fresh in the memory of many.... In fact, Bush is focused exclusively on domestic policy. It is eminently clear that, like his predecessor, this president apparently has no ambition to place himself at the head of an international climate protection movement. His negative attitude on the issue of climate protection simply ignores the recent serious warnings issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. So the omens for the upcoming Climate Summit could not be worse--but only at first glance. If the Europeans could finally rid themselves of the notion that the United States is indispensable for global climate protection, the future would not look quite so grim."
"Bad Reputation Among Environmentalists Justified"
National German radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne stated in a commentary (3/16): "The new U.S. president has given in to the pressure from the coal and oil industry, for whom short-term profit is everything, even if the world climate is destroyed. Thus, the Bush administration has proven that its bad reputation among environmentalists is justified. And it seems not to care whether its position is marginalizing the country worldwide. The U.S. decision is a catastrophe for climate control. And the horrified reactions from many countries are legitimate."
"What Do I Care About Climate?"
Malte Lehming commented in an editorial in centrist Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/15): "On Tuesday, Bush broke his first campaign promise. Just like that. Impudent, unscrupulous, without any signs of a bad conscience. In addition, he made his completely surprised EPA chairwoman look bad in public, handed his secretary of state a few more problems in Europe, and fueled worldwide fear that under Bush's leadership the climate catastrophe will happen sooner rather than later. With his move, Bush has damaged his reputation almost as much as the environment.... The fact that politicians change their opinions is normal. But it is inexcusable if they do so within months and make a 180 degree turn in the wrong direction. Bush's image as 'Mr. Clean,' which he tried to build up in order to distance himself from his predecessor, has suffered considerably. Mr. Bush seems as indifferent to his past statements as he does to the natural catastrophes of the future."
"Bush Is Putting On The Brakes"
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau noted (3/15): "President Bush considers the Kyoto Protocol to be ineffective. Unfortunately, the Kyoto Protocol is the basis for all efforts over the past four years to agree on binding regulations among industrialized nations for the reduction of carbon dioxide and other emissions.... Feeling reassured by the positive signals sent out by Bush during the campaign and by statements made by the new head of the EPA, optimists had dreamed that a conservative president with good relations to energy and other industrial corporations could break the stalemate in climate policy. Now, however, it is time to wake up! One might as well forget about the next climate control conference scheduled to take place in Bonn in July. At least if the goal was once again to keep a resistant United States involved at all costs and with concessions going far beyond the pain threshold.... The alternative: The Kyoto Protocol will take effect without Washington. Such a strategy, however, would require reconciling the disparate interests existing, for example, between the EU, Russia, and Japan."
"Announcing The Electricity Paradise"
Maritta Tkalec judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (3/15): "The change in U.S. climate policy, which aims to reverse even the minor progress made during the Clinton years, has been perceptible for weeks. In order to jumpstart the ailing U.S. economy, Bush wants to make energy cheaper, even if this has a negative impact on the environment. Dick Cheney is supposed to combine the relevant rules into a new energy concept. Rumor has it that nature preserves will no longer be off limits when it comes to opening up cheap national energy sources. During the climate conferences of the past few years, the United States insisted on its forests being counted as carbon sinks on the national balance sheet for emissions. Such a strategy would have allowed for the attainment of reduction goals without reducing anything. It is possible that the Bush delegation will not bring this kind of magic math and condescending conference conduct to the next round of climate talks in Bonn--the whole issue of climate policy is up for grabs. Even under Clinton, the countries with ambitious climate goals had no means of exerting pressure on the United States. Now, all they can hope for are signs of heavenly wrath in the face of Bush's sins: floods, droughts, and tornadoes."
"U.S. Laws Contra Nature's Law"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung's of Munich editorial judged (3/15): "The world owes President Bush the insight that natural laws do not apply if they run counter to U.S. laws. According to U.S. law, climate-changing carbon dioxide is not a harmful substance. And that is why President Bush is forgetting his campaign promises.... The coal lobby has succeeded in convincing Bush that the studies conducted by climate researchers are 'incomplete.' This observation is correct, and eternally true. Knowledge is never complete. This will still hold true even if the world climate changes dramatically.... It may bother U.S. citizens, but even in their
country--and not only in the insignificant rest of the world--climate change has already begun. It can be measured not only by scientists, but also as a cost factor for insurance companies."
ITALY: "(Dioxide) Emissions, Crisis For The Kyoto Protocol"
Domenico Siniscalco filed for leading, business Il Sole-24 Ore (3/16): "Should the United States, likely followed by Canada and Japan, not intend to pay the costs necessary to counter climate change, the other industrial countries will automatically be at a dead end. The unilateral reduction of emissions carried out by the countries separately, for instance by Europe alone, would be inadequate to avoid climate change and very dangerous as far as (economic) competition is concerned."
A commentary by Alessandro Farruggia in La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno conservative newspaper syndicate echoed (3/15): "Those who, like Greenpeace and the WWF, had trusted the U.S. delegation to the G-8 Trieste summit and had curiously fooled themselves into thinking that something good could come from the Bush administration on environment negotiations, will now have to face reality. The new U.S. administration, in fact, has put a block on the process for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and it has done so through the words of the president himself."
"Greenhouse Effect, Bush Backs Away"
Centrist, influential La Stampa stressed in a report by New York correspondent Maurizio Molinari (3/15): "President Bush's letter to Senator Hagel is a 180-degree turn with respect to the position expressed by Bush during the electoral campaign, and it is exactly the opposite of what EPA Administrator Whitman guaranteed to her G-8 counterparts at the Trieste summit. The statements issued by Whitman in Trieste on the opening of negotiations on the greenhouse effect did, in fact, prompt Bush's sudden about-face. Upon her return from Trieste, in fact, Whitman had to face the protests by energy lobbies who, by bypassing her, found succor from Secretary of Energy Abraham and Vice President Cheney."
"Bush's About-Face On Environment: 'I Will Not Reduce Polluting Gases'"
New York correspondent Arturo Zampaglione commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (3/15): "Less than two months after his arrival at the White House, the new American president has disowned his pledge on carbon dioxide. He thus humiliated his EPA Administrator, Christie Whitman, prompted the anger of Greens all around the world and confirmed the exaggerated power of the oil lobbies and 'big business' in the new Republican Administration."
"U.S. Emission Reduction Commitment Good For 10 Days Only"
Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica's leading environmental writer stated (3/15): "The hope for a global agreement to defend the environment, born at the Trieste G-8 summit, lasted only ten days. George Bush, Jr. yesterday disavowed his EPA Administrator, Christie Whitman, who played godmother to the peace between the United States and Europe in Trieste by assuring a commitment to environmental issues by her President, and announcing measures for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions."
"Bush 'Undermines' Kyoto Agreement"
Anna Guaita filed from New York for Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (3/15): "Bush's decision is clearly dictated by the big bosses of the oil and carbon industries--major contributors to the
Republican Party--and, in particular, by Vice President Cheney, who personally examined and rejected the UN protocol signed in Tokyo in 1997.... It will be interesting to see how EPA Administrator Whitman does next month in Nairobi, when the Intergovernmental Panel document will be officially presented to the industrialized nations that will have to meet again in Bonn in July. Said Sierra Club President Dan Becker: 'Whitman is ruined. She believed Bush and pledged his sincerity. How can the rest of the world believe her from now on?'"
AUSTRIA: "Ecological Breach of Words"
Foreign affairs editor Christoph Winder averred in liberal Der Standard (3/19): "The Bush administration's change of course concerning carbon dioxide emissions once again shows that Bush is acting without much concern for European sensitivities. Although Bush's breach of words meets with the fierce criticism of some environmentalists in the United States, the general public is not extremely concerned. The current economic recession and the memories of the energy crisis in California will further contribute to discrediting everything that might appear as if industry's hands were being tied--bleak prospects for the upcoming negotiations on the Kyoto protocol in Bonn in July."
"The Oil Prince"
Foreign affairs writer Norbert Mayer criticized in mass-circulation Kurier (3/15): "The United States sets a disastrous example, because it will give heavy industry carte blanche for reckless growth. George Bush serves mainly the interests of the huge fossil-fired power companies. But what else could have been expected from a man, who is a spoiled prince of Texan oil industry himself?"
BELGIUM: "George Bush Is Danger For Humankind"
Chief commentator Luc Van der Kelen in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws editorialized (3/19): "What is the situation in the personal play ground of the Bush family, i.e., the United States? As it has always been.... During his election campaign, Bush promised carbon dioxide reductions. At last, America was going to carry out the agreements of the Kyoto climate conference. But, it did not happen. Bush Jr. has informed the Congress that there is an energy crisis--in California, for instance, and that reductions are bad for the industry.... The military and the industry have seized power. They dominate the White House, the armed forces, and foreign affairs. It makes the weak George Bush a dangerous president."
"Bush Makes Major Turnabout In Environmental Dossiers"
New York correspondent Tom Ronse remarked in independent De Morgen (3/17): "With his turnabout, the president ridiculed his own secretary of the environment, Christie Whitman, who repeatedly referred to the promised reductions as proof that the American government was serious about its struggle against the greenhouse effect.... As disappointed the environment movements were, the industrial lobbies were triumphant when the government decision was announced.... The Kyoto Protocol remained a dead letter because the signatories did not agree on its implementation. The United States is, by far, the largest producer of greenhouse gases, but it refuses to impose reductions as stipulated by the agreement. Moreover, the right wing of the Republican Party is opposed to Kyoto because, allegedly, it is a violation of American sovereignty. Thanks to their influence, the U.S. Senate never ratified the agreement. The negotiations on the implementation of Kyoto became deadlocked in November and should be started again in July. The Bush administration will send a delegation, but people have doubts about its willingness to negotiate seriously."
"Greenhouse Effect: After Bush, Heaven Can Fall!"
Chief editor Benoit Degardin observed in the Sud Presse group papers, conservative La Meuse/La Lanterne (3/17) and independent La Nouvelle Gazette (3/17): "One was waiting to see whether George W. Bush was going to be up to his bad reputation. Well, he is. And he proved it twice. Hardly in office and to everybody's surprise, the new president decided to fire a few missiles on Baghdad.... But it was predictable that more would happen. Concerned about taking care of other interests as well--those of electricity producers--the same W. announced this week that he would not abide by his commitments in the fight against climate change. It is the same man who, on September 29, had stated his firm intention to reduce carbon gas emissions with drastic measures. We thought that idiots never changed their mind. Actually, they do: the president of the United States just sent a letter to the Nebraska governor to inform him that he did not intend to impose reductions of carbon gas emissions on energy producers, 'because such emissions are not pollutants, according to the law on air quality.' This was a way of telling coal plants--which account for half of American electricity--that they no longer have to make any effort nor worry about their future. Those who still gave him the benefit of the doubt have now understood what is to be expected from Bill Clinton's successor, i.e., nothing good for the rest of the world once American interests are at stake. The United States only accounts for one quarter of carbon gas emissions in the world, but it is not Bush's problem. After him, heaven can fall. Future generations will appreciate!"
"The United States' Unbelievable Arrogance"
Xavier Ducarme editorialized in independent La Libre Belgique (3/15): "George W. Bush's announcement is bad news for mankind.... So far, no leader at the highest level has dared to state the inanity of the fight against global warming.... By allowing hundreds of coal plants to forget that they are polluting the atmosphere more than ever, George Bush has taken an additional step [signifying] American arrogance toward the rest of the world. How can one henceforth convince an Indian, a Brazilian or an Egyptian, that it is his duty to limit his consumption of badly needed energy while the United States is doing nothing?... Of course, Uncle Sam is not the only one responsible for global warming and for the series of disasters resulting from it.... But still, how could one forget that the United States alone is responsible for one quarter of carbon gas emission in the world?... Things must be clear: if everybody on the earth was living like Seattle, Philadelphia or San Diego, life on this planet would be impossible before long. The 'American way of life' is environmentally not exportable."
"Climate: George Bush Breaks His Promises"
Xavier Ducarme also argued in the same paper (3/15): "Last September 29, the Republican presidential candidate let be known...his firm intention to reduce several atmospheric pollutants, including carbon gas, known for being responsible for the worrying global warming. This announcement reassured observers.... But today, the president changed his mind. In a letter which he sent last Tuesday to Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel--who is recognized as anti-environment--George Bush stated that 'he did not think that the government should impose carbon gas emission reductions to energy providers, since they do not constitute pollutants according to the laws on air quality.'... The president also stated that he was hostile to the Kyoto Protocol because developing countries do not have to respect their commitments in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.... This announcement is even more surprising since, in early March at a G-8 Environmental Ministers meeting in Trieste, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, had confirmed Mr. Bush's intention to fight climate change."
"The Fifteen Intend To Present A United Front On The Question"
In its prime time evening news, public broadcaster RTBF TV reported on George Bush breaking his promise to regulate carbon gas emissions. RTBF then ran an interview with
Stephan Singer, from the European Bureau of the World Wildlife Fund, who said (3/15): "The unbelievable ignorance and arrogance of President Bush does not take into account that there were 12 years of negotiations about climate change at the UN level, and that over 150 countries participated. Who is President Bush, who is the government of the United States--the world's biggest polluter, the least energy efficient country--to tell the rest of the world that 'we are right, we have to please coal industries, and you guys, well, we don't care what you are doing.' In another interview with Delia Villagrasa, Director of the European Council for a Sustainable Future of Energy, RTBF concluded: 'A few months before talks on climate change resume, the Fifteen intend to present a united front on the question. With or without the Americans, the future is quite dark.'"
"A Disappointing Signal"
In left-of-center Le Soir (3/15) Michel De Muelenaere also reported on the U.S. administration's apparent turnaround and ran a brief interview with Belgian State Secretary for Energy and Sustainable Development who is quoted as saying: "It is a worrying and very disappointing signal.... Does Bush's message mean that the international community is not ready to do something? I emphasize that we do not have the choice. Scientists confirm that the problem is getting worse. If we procrastinate, the measures which we will have to take will be even more painful." Asked whether a Kyoto Protocol without the United States can be considered, Deleuze replied: "It is possible on paper. For Kyoto to enter into force, the signatories must account for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The United States accounts for 35 percent. But is it politically feasible to isolate the United States? Does this make any sense, environmentally and economically? Are we ready to be invaded by American products which would not be subject to 'climate constraints? Are we willing to see industries relocate?"
DENMARK: Bush's Broken Promise"
Center-left Politiken commented (3/16): "All over the world, news that President Bush has broken his promise regarding CO2 reductions has been met with anger and disappointment.... The president may well appear charming on TV, but that does not alter the fact that the majority of U.S. voters thinks that, since taking office, he has shown himself to be something of a reactionary hawk. Forget phrases like 'compassionate conservatism'--the policies of the man in the White House are hardline and class-related. The chances that the United States will ratify Kyoto with Bush at the helm are extremely poor."
"Poor Old America"
Left-wing Information judged (3/16): "The world's [last remaining] superpower, the United States, cannot afford to pay any attention to global warming.... [Nonetheless] states like California, Nevada and even Texas are investing in alternative energy. Bush does not dare to lend his political support to these initiatives.... Some say that his links to the oil and coal industries are responsible for his rejection of CO2 emission reductions."
FINLAND: "Bad Omens Materializing"
In the view of centrist Suomenmaa's editorial (3/20): "President Bush has reversed his intention to contribute to cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The motive is plain: cutting emissions would push up electricity prices. That is undoubtedly the case, but energy prices are not the issue here. The issue is making sure that the planet has a future. The kindest interpretation is that Bush is cautious not to launch measures which might harm businesses or consumers. As the poster child of short-sighted extreme capitalism he is not interested in the harm that might be done to future generations."
"Boycotting The United States"
Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat carried this op-ed piece by editorial writer Antti Blafield (3/16): "President George W. Bush has gone back on his promise to restrict the carbon dioxide emissions of U.S. power plants.... Last year, the coal industry gave $500,000 to the Republicans. It is payback time. For the future of mankind it is essential to stop the greenhouse effect.... It is appalling that the president of a great power publicly puts the short-term economic perspective before the opportunity to slow down global warming. And just for half a million dollars. The U.S. president only seems to trust the dollar as evidence. So, the rest of the world should take him up on that in order to prevent the Bush presidency from going to waste for mankind. One way is to boycott U.S. products. That would be globalization for the sake of the globe."
IRELAND: "Global Warming"
In relevant commentary ahead of President Bush's letter, the moderately conservative Irish Times considered (2/20): "There is a stark contrast between these scientific findings and the unwillingness of political leaders the world over to take decisive action on them. It will probably require an extended period of public information, education and debate to bring the issues to the center of political decision-making.... The new U.S. administration is less committed to such multilateral solutions than its predecessor, despite the demonstrable responsibility of U.S. producers and consumers for a high proportion of the emissions."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Bush Destroys Sacred Edifices"
Centrist Haagsche Courant noted (3/17): "With her return from Italy, Whitman learned that Bush had changed his mind. What greenhouse effect? The president had been swayed by the pressures of his conservative party members and the lobbyists of the coal industry and the oil companies."
NORWAY: "The White Greenhouse"
In the newspaper-of-record Aftenposten, journalist Agnar Kaarbo contended (3/21): "In the letter to several conservative senators, Bush departs from his election promise about demanding that coal-fired power plants must cut emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2.... One thing Bush keeps saying that the Kyoto Protocol is a threat to the American economy. He asks questions about the scientific basis for the protocol, and he puts aside the demand that coal-fired power plants must emit less CO2.... It has long been speculated that Europe, together with the developing countries that are not covered by fixed reductions, will continue with Kyoto cooperation without the United States.... For the politicians it is tempting to think like this. They can create a hostile picture of the climate bad-boy Bush and worship their own self-glorifying climate rhetoric. The only problem is that if the Kyoto Protocol is supposed to become a reality, it will have to happen through what is called market-based solutions.... Then the United States can not stand on the sidelines. The country is the worst climate sinner, but also the central industrial and economic partner. A growing number of American industry leaders believe that climate problems must be taken seriously.... The president's men and women can expect more delegations to the White House saying that an energy crisis can only be solved by developing new forms of energy. The president from the oil state of Texas has not read his last note on climate problems in the Oval Office."
PORTUGAL: "Thanks to Bush"
Columnist Helena Matos expounded in influential moderate-left Público (3/17): "Bush, with that stupidly ill-tempered manner to which the world has not yet adjusted, could end up serving as a useful 'bomb at the party' for the discouraged Portuguese environmental movement. How
many years has it been since Portuguese ecologists were able to mobilize the population over environmental causes?... We can say that the environment in Portugal suffers from a 'bingeing' syndrome [in terms of public attention]. The cure for such a disease could perhaps come from Bush himself. Not because some scientist manages, using A+B, to explain to him what climate changes are. No matter how desirable that might be. It's that it's going to be possible to see it. At least, that's what the journal Nature is guaranteeing...[that] you can see the changes in the emission of gases with a greenhouse effect. Now if you stuck these pictures, along with some family photos, into some nice albums, maybe the man would be convinced. If he is, we have to ask him to also make us some of these photos, but focused on the condition of the territory in Portugal.... So, since hope is the last thing to die, who knows, after all, if those satellites won't manage...to make him believe that the world is a kind of Texas ranch writ large."
SPAIN: "Bush's Conceit"
Centrist La Vanguardia observed (3/16): "George W. Bush didn't even need two months in office to change his mind about one of his electoral promises--to drop the regulation on gas emissions.... At this point, no one can deny that climate change has not been scientifically proven, but Bush has done so to justify his controversial decision.... If we take into account that the United States produces 25 percent of worldwide gas emissions, the president's decision is bad news for all citizens."
HONG KONG: "Unheeded Message"
The independent South China Morning Post editorialized (3/15): "The United States spews out far greater quantities of greenhouse gases than any other country. But it is not prepared to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which set a world standard for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, because that would mean U.S. energy policy were constrained by an international treaty. It is true that scientists cannot agree on the exact cause of the growing damage to the ozone layer, or the increase in global temperatures, but none doubts that fossil fuels are a significant contributory factor.... The devastating effects are seen almost daily on television as people around the world wade neck-high in floodwaters or face the terrible consequences of drought. These so-called 'natural' disasters are frequently the result of human activity. Unless there is international agreement that this is a catastrophe already in progress, and until the world's major economies are ready to set an example by developing renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly transport systems, things can only get worse. It was the U.S. space program that showed us the fragile blue planet on which we all have our home, and how interdependent one continent is on another. How tragic that the message seems to have missed the White House."
BRAZIL: "Bush's Policy And Big Corporations"
An editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo held (3/19): "U.S. environmental policy remains subject to corporate influence. In the past ten years, U.S. business has succeeded in preventing major advancement in fighting pollution, and the U.S. government has frequently been sensitive to its pressure. The Bush administration does not differ fundamentally from the past administration. Fighting pollution is other nations' problem, not the U.S.'... The difference is that George Bush favors the powerful sectors of U.S. society more. Therefore, he has even less moral authority than Clinton to defend the inclusion of social and environmental clauses in trade accords."
On President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, conservative O Globo commented (3/18): "During the recent presidential campaign, there was a lot of talk that the two presidential candidates had practically no differences between them for voters to be enthused about or reject. But Bush's first steps suggest that isn't quite so. It is difficult to imagine, for example, that Al Gore would openly reject an international treaty signed by him, but Bush has just rejected...the Kyoto Protocol, negotiated and signed by his predecessor.... Even during the Clinton administration, the protocol did not prevent the United States, the world's greatest carbon dioxide producer, from dragging its feet during the accord's negotiations.... Suddenly...President Bush rejected the September commitment. This means that the United States is now betting that the greenhouse effect has been blown out of proportion by scientists and environmentalists and also by most of the countries which defend the Kyoto accord, such as Europe and Brazil. This is an extremely risky bet, not to say an imprudent one. The episode also affects Bush's domestic prestige. His father, when a presidential candidate, used the expression 'read my lips,' which meant he asked the voter to believe he would never raise taxes.... Now Bush Junior has imitated the father. If he turns this into a habit, it won't be very easy to keep the confidence and applause of his voters for the next four years."
MEXICO: "September's Promise"
Miguel Angel Padilla Acosta judged in nationalist Universal (3/19): "President Bush's announcement in a letter to Republican senators that the U.S. government would not order a reduction of CO2 emissions is a hard blow to efforts to curb global warming. He has broken the promise he made on compelling CO2 emissions reductions. A promise that won the votes of several environmentalists.... Worst of all, however, is that his decision crushes the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that called for a modest 5.2 percent reduction in global warming gases.... EPA Administrator Christine Whitman presented Bush's promise as the U.S. official environmental policy at the G-8 meeting.... Reversing this decision is a political victory for Vice President Cheney and Energy Secretary Abraham. Were it true that EPA Administrator Whitman was surprised by the president's decision, her resignation should be forthcoming not only because she has been politically defeated, but because she has no more credibility as a negotiator.... If she does not resign, it would be difficult not to get the impression that, on global warming, the United States intended from the very beginning to deceive not only the United States electorate but the whole world."