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|On climate, Bush and history|
Corriere della Sera - June 2nd 2007
One of the Bush administration’s favourite put-downs, used generally to dismiss opponents of its efforts to export democracy, is the idea that someone is “on the wrong side of history”. By that, they mean that time (and thus history) will inevitably prove the critic wrong and the Bush administration right. Angela Merkel,
Mrs Merkel wants, in line with the policy agreed at the European Council, to achieve a consensus among the rich, industrialised countries about the need to set targets and a timetable for the reduction of emissions of the “greenhouse gases” that are believed to be raising the global temperature. She wants the G8 summit to set a goal of slowing the rise in average temperatures during the 21st century to just 2 degrees Celsius, by setting a target of cutting global greenhouse-gas emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Leaked copies last week of an official American document sent in response to this proposal suggested that the Bush administration was disputing both Mrs Merkel’s diagnosis and her proposed cure. In a way, this was reassuring to European critics of George Bush: it showed him to be the same unthinking, stubborn fool that they have said he was all along. As a result, many were disappointed on May 31st when he announced that he had in fact changed his mind: “new scientific evidence” showed that global warming is indeed occurring and is caused by human activity. But they need not have worried: even if he now accepts the diagnosis, he is still resisting the cure.
President Bush has proposed that no target for emissions cuts should be agreed at the G8 summit, but that instead special summits should be convened, to include
Yet the need to bring
President Bush is reluctant to take that approach for fear of opposition in his own country. But the mood in American politics has changed. All the leading presidential candidates are vying to come up with proposed measures to deal with climate change, for they believe that to do so is now popular. The Democratic Party’s candidates are giving global warming an especially high priority.
President Bush should be offering genuine leadership on this issue. He is on the wrong side of history. Soon, fortunately, he will be history.