Saturday, May 26, 2007

Carbon Emissions and Global Warming: A BIG DEAL

If there is anyone who does not understand the seriousness of the issue of "carbon emissions" (primarily carbon dioxide, CO2), and their relationship to global warming and supposed climate change, this article from the NY Times sheds some light.

This is not just a scientific issue, but a political issue at every level. These conflicts range from local zoning ordinances governing whether an individual can put up a windmill in their back yard, to states debating whether more coal burning power plants should be build, to our Congress in Washington, D.C. This article reveals the political concerns maneuvering for position that is going on at the international level. The U.S. is currently at odds with many of our usually most staunch allies, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and now Japan.

This is very serious and we must learn all we can and communicate with our leaders what we know and how we think. Here is the article from:

U.S. Rebuffs Germany on Greenhouse Gas Cuts
Published: May 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, May 25 — The United States has rejected Germany’s proposal for deep long-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, setting the stage for a battle that will pit President Bush against his European allies at next month’s meeting of the world’s richest countries.

In unusually harsh language, Bush administration negotiators took issue with the German draft of the communiqué for the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, complaining that the proposal “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,” the American response said.

Germany, backed by Britain and now Japan, has proposed cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who will be the host of the meeting in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm next month, has been pushing hard to get the Group of 8 to take significant action on climate change.

It had been a foregone conclusion that the Western European members of the Group of 8 — Germany, Italy, France and Britain — would back the reductions. But on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan threw his lot in with the Europeans, and proposed cutting carbon emissions as part of a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose mandatory caps on gases end in 2012.

“The Kyoto Protocol was the first, concrete step for the human race to tackle global warming, but we must admit that it has limitations,” Mr. Abe said at a conference in Tokyo. He specifically called on the United States and China, the biggest producers of carbon emissions, to lead the fight against global warming.

The United States has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of concerns about damage to the American economy. Bush administration officials have also balked because China and India are not part of it.
("The US opposes Kyoto because it will have no effect on
global warming." Peter)

The push back by the Bush administration over the German proposal has left many European diplomats furious. “The United States, on this issue, is virtually isolated,” one European diplomat said on condition of anonymity under diplomatic rules, and then added, “with the exception of other big polluters.”

Both Ms. Merkel and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain have, in private talks with President Bush, pushed for the United States to agree to the European proposal.

Kristen A. Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House on environmental issues, said: “All the G-8 countries are committed to pursuing an agreement. We just come at it from different perspectives.”

A clearly disappointed Ms. Merkel, speaking to Germany’s lower house of Parliament on Thursday, sought to lower expectations that Mr. Bush would agree to the more ambitious agenda sought by Europe and Japan. “I can say quite openly that, today, I don’t know whether we will succeed in that at Heiligendamm,” she said.

The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, produces between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s emissions, according to government data.
Emissions in Europe and the United States have been slowing of late, with a slight drop in the United States in 2006. But much more growth is forecast by various agencies on both sides of the Atlantic and particularly in Asia.

Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Andrew C. Revkin from New York.

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