Climate Change: U.S. vs. Europe

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George Bush is in Europe for this year's big G8 meeting of industrialized nations. The Germans are running the meeting. At the heart of the agenda: doing something big and urgent about global warming.

After all the talk, this is where the rubber meets the road — or misses it. Before Air Force One even revved up for the flight, the White House said "no way" to European plans for controlling greenhouse gases.

President Bush says he has a plan of his own. Critics say he's a staller, a back-pedaler, an underminer. But we're playing for all the marbles now.

This hour On Point: Bush versus Europe on the planet's future.

Quotes from the Show:

"Angela Merckel, the German Chancellor, wants the leaders to agree [on] a stabilization goal at this week's summit aimed at preventing global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees. This implies stringent cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and therefore are rather specific in nature. President Bush has countered with what he says is not a rival plan but something that will feed into international discussions on a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012 and famously has not involved the US. So really, the question is can the leaders this week agree [on] a form of words which will take the G8 in the specific kind of direction Germany and many of its European partners including Britain are looking for." Layla Boulton

"Some people, in particular our European allies, think the Kyoto Protocol was an excellent first step. Obviously this administration is skeptical of that, but what everyone would agree to is that a second step is required, essentially for the year 2012. The President has come forward with a proposal. I think the proposal that he's come forward with in terms of the level of detail, which is slim at the present, has both good news and bad news associated with it. ... This is the first time that this administration, in particular this President, has actually stated, has signaled engagement with allies on developing a post-Kyoto international climate policy architecture." Robert Stavins

"The area where people [Europeans] aren't saying bravo is his [Bush's] failure again to countenance the idea of any sort of cap on American emissions because over in Europe where we already have a cap and trade system, the feeling is that the world is gonna get nowhere on this until the Americans agree to adopt something similar." Emma Duncan

"This is a very welcome move by the United States' President actually because we were afraid a little bit that the whole discussions about long-term goals for global climate protection might be blocked in the preparation phase of the negotiations. But it obviously is true that now the United States are willing in a sense to move forward, to make progress with an international framework, and most welcome is the sign that the United States might want to resume global leadership in a problem which is probably the most important one in the 21st century." Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

"Germany will not compromise on certain issues like long-term orientation ... but I think there is a lot of hope still and my feeling is that behind the scenes, there is a lot of movement now so I'm still optimistic." Hans Joachim Schellnhuber


Layla Boulton, assistant world news editor for the Financial Times.;
Robert Stavins, professor of business and government at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and director of Harvard's Environmental Economics Program.;
Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist and author of this week's cover story "Cleaning Up.";

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

This program aired on June 5, 2007.


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