On May 31, President Bush made a surprise move and unveiled his own proposal for a A New International Climate Change Framework, urging 15 of the world’s major CO2 emitters (the G8 plus key emerging market players such as China and India that are exempt from the current Kyoto Protocol and which is set to expire in 2012) to meet this fall “to develop a long-term global goal to reduce greenhouse gasses” in an effort to address climate change “in a way that enhances energy security and promotes economic growth.” According to the Bush plan, each country would be able to decide on its own how to meet the emissions goal.
German newspapers report that Washington sent a note to Berlin the week before, accusing the Merkel government of ignoring “serious, fundamental concerns” here in the United States about the draft G8 climate change communiqué. A commentator for Germany’s centrist weekly Die Zeit warned of the potential for a ’climate war’ among the G8 nations, which could lead to the first major clash in the Summit’s 30-year history.
Angela Merkel cautiously welcomed Bush’s new initiative, noting that she saw “movement on the issue” and that Bush had recognized that “climate change is man-made and cannot be ignored.” German media, however, reacted with some skepticism. Munich’s left-of-center daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, for instance, views Bush’s “vicious proposal” as a ’poison pill’ designed to kill both the G8 Summit and the UN Climate Change Conference in Indonesia later this year. After all, in proposing his own alternative, post-Kyoto framework involving only the world’s 15 major CO2 emitters, President Bush clearly wants to deal with climate change outside of the often unwieldy 192-nation UN framework. However, Dr. Bernd Pfaffenbach, Germany’s G8 sherpa, already made it clear that UN-involvement in any post-Kyoto climate change regime was ‘non-negotiable.’ Without mentioning Bush’s latest proposal, he explained that “This is a red line that the Chancellor would never cross.”
It remains to be seen what the G8 Summit endgame will look like. In Germany, as in the rest of Europe, there are high hopes that the Summit will mark a historic breakthrough in the fight against climate change. But conservative analysts such as Torsten Krauel, the Washington correspondent for Die Welt, are already beginning to criticize Merkel for her handling of the G8 Summit preparations. According to Krauel, Merkel has overplayed her hand vis-à-vis President Bush, who—while trying to convince his conservative Republican base to accept a controversial immigration deal—has little political capital left to make significant concessions on climate change. The Kyoto protocol, after all, is still seen by many Americans as an “unfair treaty” which gives economic competitors such as China and India a free ride. As Krauel put it, “For the first time, Merkel has lost the feeling for the right measure in foreign policy.”
This article first appeared as a blog entry on the WorldwideStandard.com and is reprinted with permission from the author. It has been shortened from its original version. The full article can be viewed here.
Ulf Gartzke is a contributing blogger covering German / European issues for the Weekly Standard, one of America’s leading conservative journals. He has also served as the Director of the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation’s Washington Office since July 2004. Before joining the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, Mr. Gartzke worked at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, where he was in charge of the Forum’s engagement with the global automotive industry. Mr. Gartzke has previously worked for DaimlerChrysler’s Washington Affairs Office, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the World Bank in Paris, and the Christian Social Union (CSU) party headquarters in Munich. The opinions expressed in this article reflect his personal views.
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