Foreign Policy Blogs

The White House

No matter how you slice it, global warming or climate change, according to a news search on Google, U.S. President George Bush's announcement yesterday got a lot of attention.  There are over a thousand stories on Bush and either "climate change" or "global warming."  From Bangkok to Bloomington, from Vladivostok to Vincennes, what the White House has to say on the matter at hand here is noteworthy.  As it should be.

In a sea change, Bush called for "a long-term global goal" for reducing GHG and he said that negotiations should commence among "high-polluting nations" , and that means you India, China and Brazil , and that agreement should be reached by the end of his second and last term, the end of 2008.  Next week, President Bush will be going to Germany for the G-8 Summit where climate change is going to be at the top of the agenda.  The general expectation prior to yesterday was that Bush would not only have nothing to offer on this subject, he would attempt to blunt any G-8 initiative.

I had some notes on the G-8 below under Meetings and also under C40 , The Finale.  I said, in the latter post, that London Mayor Ken Livingstone " cited one (unnamed) member of the G-8 as "in denial' on climate change.  The presidential administration will change on January 20, 2009, and we will see action on climate change from the White House then."  So, this is one of those moments when to be wrong is a good thing.  If the administration is at all sincere about yesterday's announcement, then we are in a new place, and a much better place to be indeed.  White House inaction and fecklessness on climate change, to be sure, did not begin with the present occupant named Bush, but it certainly has been taken to new lows.  But if we can take this news at anywhere near its face value, we should definitely be thankful and Carpe Diem. 

For some excellent insight into this, listen here: to the podcast, the "NY Times" Backstory, an interview with its lead reporter on climate change, Andrew Revkin.  See also the BBC coverage, complete with speech extracts and a Q&A, and this, Analysis: Did Bush turn green?, from UPI.  Go too to the White House for their information packet on this.

Some of the proof of the pudding will be what the G-8 will proclaim next week.  Will the U.S. be a strong voice in whatever joint announcement is made?  An even stronger litmus test of the intentions of the White House will be how they treat legislation that will be coming to them from Congress this year, on both energy security , very much including renewables and efficiency , and then on a U.S. cap-and-trade system.  In fact, the signals they will be giving Congress now, if any, may show the depth of their sincerity on the new framework they're proposing. 

There is a world of reaction to this, not only from the media, but from environmental groups and others.  Go to the "Climate Change Links" we've got for you here at the blog to see some of the response.  Not incidentally, we'd love to have yours.  Comment freely below.  Do you think we've turned the corner, or is something else going on? 



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change