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US Opposes G8 Climate Proposals 845

Posted by Zonk
from the gotta-love-smog-as-an-export-commodity dept.
elrond writes "The US appears to have summarily rejected draft proposals for G8 members that would have agreed to tougher measures for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The BBC reports that leaked documents have indicated the positions of the various world powers, from the timetable-setting of Germany to the US's intractable stance. Red ink comments on the documents hint at the US's irritation: 'The US still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement. The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses 'multiple red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to ... We have tried to tread lightly but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position.'"
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US Opposes G8 Climate Proposals

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  • Please Remember (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:40PM (#19293963)
    • by Esteanil (710082) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:04PM (#19295031) Homepage Journal
      Unfortunately, the political will to make real changes seem to be lacking, not only in the US.

      Ultimately, everyone's in favor of doing something to help our environment, but there's nearly always something they care more about, and very few people vote on the basis of a politician's stand on the environment.

      And, perhaps more importantly. With democracy the way it is, politicians profit (get reelected) by looking no more than 4 years into the future. Any good they do which doesn't show significant results before the next election simply doesn't matter to the professional politician. Politics is a job, and securing your job is one of the greatest motivations for most people.

      Making the drastic changes required to slow global warming significantly has a very high political cost - more unemployment as polluting businesses go out of business, and a great deal of money taken from other posts that will be obvious much earlier, and influence the next election a great deal.

      We're all environmentalists, but when the interest rates start increasing, when your house falls in value, and you're in danger of losing your job... You don't vote for environmentalism, you vote for your own short term best interests.

      And I fear that by the time the global climate becomes the immidiate problem for a majority of the population, it will be far too late to do anything effective to change it.
      • by ccmay (116316) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:07PM (#19295065)
        Ultimately, everyone's in favor of doing something to help our environment, but there's nearly always something they care more about, and very few people vote on the basis of a politician's stand on the environment.

        Put more succnictly, "Everybody wants to change the world. Nobody wants to help Mom wash the dishes." True in all times and all places.

        -ccm

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:42PM (#19293977)
    surely its only a matter of time before europe imposes trade tarrifs on US goods? Otherwise they are basically subsidising US industry, operating with far looser environmental standards. I'm sure the US will complain and 'retaliate', but I don't see any other option in the long term.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:50PM (#19294031)
      Let's hope so.
      USA seems to be saying to the world, "we don't care about the planet".

      • by malsdavis (542216) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:27PM (#19294285)
        "USA seems to be saying to the world, "we don't care about the planet""

        I think the current US administration made this position pretty clear a couple of years ago when they struck down a WTO proposal for "origin of timber" certification to reduce illegally logged timber coming from protected rainforests.

        In that case there was absolutely no doubt that striking down the proposal would cause deforestation within the designated national parks of third world countries, but it was still struck down by the Bush's representative "in the name of free trade".
        • by MrHanky (141717) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:32PM (#19294799) Homepage Journal
          For some people, the idea of "free trade" includes the right to know what one is buying. Evidently not so for Bush.
          • by wall0159 (881759) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:40PM (#19295299)
            Yes. In fact, as Adam Smith described, one of the requirements for an ideal free-trade system is that the buyer knows what they're buying and makes an informed/logical choice. In practice, this rarely occurs, and is one reason why free-trade is an ideal that (like communism) sounds nice in theory but doesn't translate quite so well into practice.

            No one would let a trash-disposal company make money by dumping rubbish in their backyard - it's interesting that many people feel that public commons, like air and water, are somehow different.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Planesdragon (210349)

              No one would let a trash-disposal company make money by dumping rubbish in their backyard

              To paraphrase Stranger that Fiction -- "that depends entirely on the size of the backyard and, the quantity of the rubbish."

              Albany NY gets a substantial amount of money by operating a landfill, right next to our western highway exit. The only complaint is that the air isn't clean enough, not that there's a landfill at all.

              If your town has the land, try proposing "we can start a landfill an eliminate property tax increases for the next fifty years" at your next school budget meeting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)
      Something like "environment tarrifs" would actually fit to the market-driven hardcore-capitalism position. Let the market regulate things. If we want environment-conscious products, make sure the pollution is more expensive.
      • I'm convinced, due to knowledge about human nature, that the climate change problem will only be solved with market-driven solutions.

        I don't think the government, or governments, can solve it without the private industry. Private industry is the only organizer of the masses and it must be utilized in every way on every level.

        It must be cheaper to run a business in an environmentally friendly manner. It also must be cheapter to start a business that is dedicated to solving climate change.

        I propose that we al
      • by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:52PM (#19294445) Homepage

        Let the market regulate things. If we want environment-conscious products, make sure the pollution is more expensive.

        I never understood this mentality..

        Why do we have police? Because citizens, as good as we are, cannot be trusted to police ourselves without a ton of laws and police to make sure we do what we're supposed to.

        Why should the market be any better? It's run by those same people who could not be trusted to maintain law biding composure.

        The market is fueled by it's self which is why companies are able to sell people products they don't really want or need (diamonds?), while consumers have the choice in the end, they also manipulate the hell out of us and try to convince us that their products are really safe/healthy/environmental.. when they're not.

        A perfect example would be "0 Trans Fats" vs "No Trans Fats" (yes, there's a difference). No transfats means just that; 0 means it could be "0.9g Transfats" but because of the current standards, they can truncate the number to become "0".

        Who then is going to stop a company from lying about how environmentally friendly their products are if there is no actual regulation?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kohath (38547)
      surely its only a matter of time before europe imposes trade tarrifs on US goods? ... but I don't see any other option in the long term.

      Other option: Not imposing trade tariffs.

      Just trying to help.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:45PM (#19294001)

    The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses 'multiple red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to
    No kidding. Like is there really a climate? I don't recall Jesus ever talking about a climate and I'm damn sure he never mentioned anything about it changing. Perhaps these other G8 nations need to worry a little more about their salvation than some hippie environmentalist cause that is only supported by scientists. Get the support of a couple of preachers and then I'll listen.
  • by letchhausen (95030) <letchhausen.yahoo@com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:46PM (#19294007) Homepage
    The overall position of the US at this time is that people and dinosaurs lived together in harmony and that soon George the idiot and all his money-grubbing pals will fly into the sky up to heaven. Global warming and the changing environment is a problem for those of us LEFT BEHIND to deal with. So as dubya says "What me worry?"
    • Re:I heart Dinosaurs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dal20402 (895630) * <dal20402@@@mac...com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:57PM (#19294077) Journal

      Parent is not a troll. It's an informative [tomdispatch.com] post.

      There's not much political benefit to environmental stewardship when a considerable majority [cbsnews.com] of your supporters have no interest in empirical truth. Most Bush voters believe exactly what parent said: Jesus will come again and they will be swept into heaven before the environmental consequences of their actions cause them any harm.

      • God (Score:4, Interesting)

        by southern yank (1092881) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:19PM (#19294213)
        That's exactly right. I read a Gore Vidal essay explaining how Regan was absolutely convinced that the biblical end of times would be within his lifetime. It's scary to think how such beliefs influence national policy. Vidal also proposed that no president should be elected who holds a literal view of the bible. I wonder how much the Christian Right influences Bush's environmental policy.

        Why bother looking out for future generations if the leader of the free world believes we'll all be getting beamed up in a few years?
  • responsability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bedonnant (958404) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:50PM (#19294037)
    this news is sadly unsurprising.
    when will the US finally step up and take something other than short-term, economic driven decisions concerning the environment?
    • Investigation at DOI (Score:5, Informative)

      by ushering05401 (1086795) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:01PM (#19294099) Journal
      Here's a related bit of news that may make you feel better.

      An investigation at the Department of the Interior (Manages US wildlands) has resulted in numerous resignations and may result in real domestic reform.

      Accusations from leading scientists include:
      Elimination of data regarding imperiled species in resource rich areas
      Rubber stamping of logging permits on public lands without due process
      Improper contact between dept administrators and corporate interests including the allowance of corporate influence on impact assessments

      All of the allegations center around administrators who were placed by the Bush administration. Several highly placed scientists have left for the private sector and there may be an expose published. The elimination of data was egregious. Apparently data was not only removed from official reports, but other data was *actually* changed and whistleblowers were railroaded out.

      Bet you five bucks this becomes a campaign issue if Gore decides to run.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      when will the US finally step up and take something other than short-term, economic driven decisions concerning the environment?

      When will Europe finally step up and admit they have failed badly [washingtonpost.com] WRT the Kyoto Protocol? (some countries have done great. But nowhere all or enough)
      When will the world step up and bring China and India into the emission reduction mindset?
      When will the rest of the world finally admit that the US is making significant efforts in emissions reductions, just not within the exact
      • Re:responsability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smallpaul (65919) <paul.prescod@net> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:30PM (#19295231)

        Make it simple. Everyone...reduce your individual countries emissions by x% in y years. No breaks, no 'trading', no excuses. X%.

        So you're saying that in a country where nobody has cars, nobody would be allowed to BUY cars, but in a country where everyone drives Hummers it would be sufficient for everyone to "downsize" to an Expedition.

        Quite the opposite: the only fair thing is for every human being should have a "carbon budget" and they should either live within their budget or buy budget space from someone else.

      • Selfishness seems to have become the core value of America right now. The measure of all actions is self interest. Individuals and corporations are encouraged to act solely in their own self interest, for that, we are told is the best way to ensure the common interest. While there is some truth to this, overall it is dangerous delusion. We are all part of a larger civilization, and the fate of that civilization effects all of us.

        Climate change is an issue that will effect all of us. And no matter

  • yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:53PM (#19294053) Journal

    surely its only a matter of time before europe imposes trade tarrifs on US goods?

    the world is more like a single civilization these days, any sanctions brought by europe would have far reaching consequences for the world economy. while I do think that the only way to get the top C02 producers' attention is to hit their wallet, I dont think sanctions are it. mainly because sanctions interrupt the global economy not just america's. but hey if there is a way, I hope they do it- I am sick of politicians and industry putting their own monetary goals ahead of life on Earth- something must be done.
  • Error... (Score:5, Informative)

    by derEikopf (624124) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:01PM (#19294097)
    The US still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement.

    Correction: The US Government.
    • Re:Error... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:17PM (#19294199)
      Correction, The USA is a democracy, ruled by the people. So the US goverment is the US and represents the US's views.
      • Re:Error... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nova_ostrich (774466) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:36PM (#19294339) Homepage

        It's a republic, actually. Ruled by elected representatives of the people. Democracy is just the word those representatives use to make the people of the US feel warm and fuzzy.

        Personally, I've rarely encountered a candidate for major public office that represents my views. I believe that there's a decent-sized minority similar to myself that simply can't quite overpower (in votes) the majority that focuses on whatever the two major candidates have decided are important issues today.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by malsdavis (542216)
          "that simply can't quite overpower (in votes) the majority that focuses on whatever the two major candidates have decided are important issues today"

          Or the even larger majority who are basically conned into voting for whichever party based on misleading and one-sided campaign publicity (TV & radio adverts, billboards etc.).

          It's funny how in almost all US elections for the past couple of decades, it is the party with the most campaign money behind it that gets into power.
      • Re:Error... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thelandp (632129) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:41PM (#19295313)
        Disagree. Speaking as a member of the "Rest of the World", I think it's important to make a distinction between the American people, and the current American government:

        We don't hate the American people (though the tourists can be a bit loud sometimes, they still mean well.)
        But we hate the American government with a passion.

        The distinction happens because the democratic process sometimes doesn't run as smoothly as one would hope - that can happen to any country.

    • Re:Error... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:04PM (#19294535)

      Correction: The US Government.

      Correction: The companies who bought off the representatives of the U.S. government.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:17PM (#19294201)
    We're really sorry about the climate change thing. Still, we never did want to go to Bangladesh and, let's face it, that big lagoon where London used to be is quite attractive.

    We don't suppose you can spare some rice and some oil, by any chance? Only the desert now stretches from the West Coast to Chicago and we have a bit of a food problem. And the Canadians have built a big fence along the border and won't let us in as none of us want to mow their lawns or harvest their oranges.

    We can offer plenty of stuff in exchange. How about some strategic nuclear missiles? Or some fighter aircraft? We've got plenty of them. Unfortunately, turns out they don't work too well if you want to invade another country and make people grow food for you.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:25PM (#19294261) Homepage
    The thing is not inly if "greenhouse gasses" affect the climate. It's also about outrageous and irresponsible use of resources. It's about pollution.

    You don't pollute your own house, so stop polluting this world.
    Although I don't live in your house and couldn't care less about what you do there, I and about 6 billion people live in this world so let's keep it clean.
  • Greenpeace... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pavera (320634) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:04PM (#19294537) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so Greenpeace leaked that the US is against this "communique" but they don't specify anything in the communique except that it requires reducing emissions. What are the specifics? Does it single the US out in any way? Does it put broader or more strenuous penalties on the US? Neither of these things would surprise me coming from Germany. There are a million things that the US could be objecting to. Not including third world countries in the agreement, singling out coal power production for special penalties, maybe it specifies per capita caps (the US uses more energy per capita than anyone else). My point is, without seeing the actual communique, this is just Greenpeace making headlines. It is more of the same from the environmentalists: "Here's something scary and bad, but we won't give you the actual facts, just take our word for it, the US sucks".

    Further, if the G8 did reduce emissions by 50% by 2050 (below 1990 levels... um... ok, so we reduce our energy consumption by 50% and don't completely destroy our economy how?). Even if we come up with a huge breakthrough on the energy production front, and we manage to reduce emissions by that much, China and India will both be producing 5-10 times more emissions than they are today, and today China and India are producing almost as much as the US. They aren't covered by this agreement at all. So net result is, global warming still just as much of a problem and the developed world has no economy left, or wasted hundreds of billions converting over to clean power.

    The problem with agreements like this is that you can't know, say the G8 (including US) signs this agreement, and now its 2048, and no one has made fusion work, wind power is still too costly, and too sporadic, wave power doesn't pan out, solar power is still only 15% efficient, nuclear power because of local regulations is not an option... And we have this global treaty that on Jan 1 2050 requires us to pay huge penalties or turn off half our economy.... There is not a good solution to the energy problem, and you don't commit yourself to something extremely detrimental to your economy, way of life, people in general hoping for a massive breakthrough. And that is exactly what this is hoping. We would need a seriously massive breakthrough on some renewable energy front (nuclear, solar, wind, whatever) to comply with this regulation. There is nothing that seems to be on the horizon which would allow us to comply. Hydrogen cars? Great but hydrogen takes energy to produce, so now we're burning more coal. Electric cars, same problem. The only solution is to go completely nuclear. But thanks to these same environmentalists, that is 100% impossible in the US. It will not happen.

    The only other possibility is to start spending billions if not hundreds of billions buying up huge swathes of land to put up wind farms or solar panels, and then there is still huge amounts of regulation, law suits, all sorts of things that will happen with that. I wanted to take my house off the grid, but it is impossible for 99% of americans to pull this off, because solar panels to power even a modest home cost > 30k. Very few people have that money sitting around, and even if they did, they would be stupid to spend it on something that will at most save them 100-150/mo on their electric bill. 30+ year ROI is not considered a good investment anywhere.
    • Re:Greenpeace... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nagora (177841) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:17PM (#19294653)
      Does it single the US out in any way? Does it put broader or more strenuous penalties on the US?

      As the single biggest waster of energy in the world and a country where average miles per gallon figures are actually dropping, I would hope that a bigger stick would be applied to the US.

      Do you hassle all your neighbours equally, or just the ones who are letting their dog shit on your lawn?

      Even if we come up with a huge breakthrough on the energy production front,

      How about just improving the efficency of your economy to the same level that other people have?

      China and India will both be producing 5-10 times more emissions than they are today

      Gothcha, two wrongs make a right.

      They aren't covered by this agreement at all.

      Oh, I thought you said you didn't know the specifics of the agreement.

      global warming still just as much of a problem and the developed world has no economy left,

      Hey, crazy thought, but couldn't you just not buy all that crap China is producing? I mean, if you're that worried about their economy overtaking yours maybe you should stop paying them to do it? Plus, since they're a totally corrupt and evil country, you'd even be acting ethically. Just a thought. We could all make a small start by not sending any teams to the Chinese Olympics.

      TWW

    • Re:Greenpeace... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ironsides (739422) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:00PM (#19294999) Homepage Journal
      Further, if the G8 did reduce emissions by 50% by 2050 (below 1990 levels... um... ok, so we reduce our energy consumption by 50% and don't completely destroy our economy how?).

      Hey, remember. Emissions!=energy production. I could easily drop our emmissions by 50% and increase energy production. Nuclear power is our friend.
  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:08PM (#19294575) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know what these "red lines" actually are? I mean, it's fun to just assume that the US is wrong, but it would be neat to know what we are actually disagreeing about.

    Also, I wouldn't sign anything that was an "Agreement to slow the rise in average temperatures this century to 2C". How can we possibly agree to that? Do we have some reason to believe that is withing the G8's power?

    -Peter
  • by SQLz (564901) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:15PM (#19294637) Homepage Journal
    I mean, why don't they listen to the USA. Our position is that since the earth is only 3000 years old, there isn't enough long term data to determine if climage change is even being caused by humans. Not only that, why would God let the planet get too hot? It just doesn't make any sense.
  • by Mutatis Mutandis (921530) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:18PM (#19294667)

    There are some hints in the news here that the USA was sufficiently embarrassed by this leaked memorandum, that it had to mollify its position somewhat.

    It happens that the governments of the UK and Germany happen to take global warming very seriously, and both want and need to deliver a deal. If the US refuse to compromise, then the allies of the USA will be in a very awkward position indeed. Chancellor Merkel and especially prime minister Blair will have closely associated themselves with a power that refuses to take action on an issue that they have themselves identified as a significant, even the most important, threat to the future of their own societies and economies. And as no nation on this planet produces even remotely as much CO2 per head of the population as Americans do, that makes the USA a de facto threat, instead of an ally.

    The sad truth is that Merkel and Blair they have no reason to expect much in the way of concessions. So their best way out of this corner is to dismiss George W. Bush and his policies as an irrelevance, which they could do with some justification. Many US states have already taken serious steps to fight global warming, and as Tony Blair pointed out today, "I can't think that there's going to be many people running for presidential office next time round in the US who aren't going to have climate change in their program." Never mind the current president... and that's King Tony speaking!

    Of course, even from the Bush administration's point of view, provoking such a situation seems rather counterproductive, and I would think that sanity will induce them to offer at least a compromise that people can attempt to interpret as a step forward. On the other hand, consistency or clear sense of purpose have never hallmarks of the Bush Jr. era.

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:35PM (#19294819)

    The problem is that you cannot make real money preventing global warming. All you can do is to put yourself at an economic disadvantage.

    However, there are mountians of govenment money to be made trying to correct the effects of it once it gets up and slaps people in the face.

    So why try to stop it. Ride the tidal wave and make some real money in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      The problem is that you cannot make real money preventing global warming.

      The High Priest of Global Warming begs to differ. He even pays himself.
  • by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:39PM (#19295701)
    I don't imagine this is possible... but (I'll carry on anyway!) would it be possible for the G8 to instead try to reach agreement with individual states? I'd imagine that California (for one) might be more inclined to reach an agreement.

    This might be a more practical approach than trying to reach any agreement with the current US administration, which would otherwise involve lots of foot-dragging and then finally a very watered down (and likely useless) agreement.

    Also, if some states did sign up, it *might* shame the others into action? Or am I expecting too much?!
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:44PM (#19295731)
    Someone should come right out and call a shovel a shovel.

    The U.S.A. is essentially an international criminal state on this issue,
    and it's time that the rest of the world agreed to take some serious
    punitive measures.

    I think sanctions would be a good first step.

    "No oil for you!"

    ('til you learn how to use it like a responsible adult.)
  • by furball (2853) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:50PM (#19296879) Journal
    Don't worry. I'm selling carbon credits. Just pay me and continue on what you were doing.
  • Not my President (Score:3, Informative)

    by SoopahMan (706062) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:58PM (#19296911)
    This is not "The US's opinion" and too many people confuse this with Bush in office. The guy has an Approval rating of low 30%'s and has made clear anyone who doesn't agree with him can go dip their balls in lava (credit: Daily Show). His decisions don't represent me nor the majority of the US people, not by a long shot. This isn't the US's stance, it's one guy who'd be out of power if the US had a means to dispose of removing bad mistakes from power.
  • by DrDitto (962751) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @11:37PM (#19297437)
    There is plenty of doubt out there about whether man-made CO2 is the cause of global warming...including well-known scientists in the National Academy of Sciences. Like this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lindzen [wikipedia.org]

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