G-8 Statement Regarding Climate Change: Will Media Use It to Bash Bush?

For those that have been following the G-8 summit in Germany, a formal declaration from the group has just been released (h/t Benny Peiser; section dealing with climate change begins on page 14, emphasis added throughout):

Since we met in Gleneagles, science has more clearly demonstrated that climate change is a long term challenge that has the potential to seriously damage our natural environment and the global economy. We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy security.

Given the media’s global warming alarmist tendencies, a rather obvious question is raised: How will the press cover this declaration this evening and in tomorrow’s papers? In the end, as this is a joint statement with backing by the United States, it seems rather predictable that the media's take will be something like this:

A joint declaration from the meeting of the eight most developed nations taking place in Germany this week came out strongly in favor of international programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world. This appears to be quite a slap in the face to the Bush administration given its reluctance to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, and may signal an end to the White House standing in the way of averting a climate disaster.

Can you hear Katie, Charlie, and Brian beginning their programs like that this evening?

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as this statement out of the G-8 really does nothing to move the United States – or any other nation for that matter – closer to participating in Kyoto.

Why? Because, as had been predicted by many, the G-8 didn't create any formal greenhouse gas emissions targets or caps. None.

As such, contrary to what you'll likely hear and read, and quite akin to what the folks at Stratfor wrote on Tuesday, this summit might mark the end of Kyoto as we know it (h/t Benny Peiser, subscription required, emphasis added throughout):

European leaders have expressed dismay over U.S. President George W. Bush's June 1 call for the creation of a long-term dialogue among the 15 largest greenhouse gas-emitting countries. The plan, they say, is another stall tactic designed to allow the Bush administration to appear as though it is trying to work with the international community on climate issues, when in reality it is not. Such action, they say, would take time and attention away from the difficult work being done on the issue via the Kyoto Protocol process.

In reality, however, the Bush plan signals the end of Kyoto -- and the beginning of a new international consensus that relieves Kyoto's pressures on governments.

The United States, China, India, Canada and Australia produce more than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions -- and those emissions are growing. To be effective, then, any climate regime that endeavors to make real cuts in emissions must include these countries. By bringing the Pacific Rim countries into alignment on the issue, Bush has brought the United States far more power over global greenhouse gas emissions policy than Europe ever has had. With this, Bush takes from Europe its one global foreign policy success story.

Didn’t hear this from the alarmist Bush bashers in the media, did you? And, you’re not going to hear it tonight, or read about it tomorrow:

History will remember 2007 as the year the United States lost its infamous position as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases to China, an event that has been inevitable for years. From the U.S. point of view, therefore, any successful greenhouse gas-limiting agreement is not dependent upon Washington's participation, but on Beijing's.

As such, Bush has engaged China, India, Australia, Canada and even a discontented Japan -- birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol -- in separate negotiations outside the Kyoto system. Called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, this strategy eschews firm caps on emissions -- which the Americans, Chinese and Indians oppose and which have thus far proved impossible to align with Australian and Canadian resource policy. It instead focuses on sharing technology that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing countries; it also offers companies that are developing efficiency-related technologies an expanded market for their products. Key among such technologies are clean coal, nuclear, carbon capture/sequestration and fuel cells.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Then why didn’t our media present Bush’s proposal as such:

The U.S. business community needed Bush to present a climate policy that provides clarity and certainty. A week ago, the only "certainty" was that the United States eventually would accept some new version of Kyoto, and that the climate change issue was locked into European leadership. Bush's June 1 announcement flipped that conventional wisdom on its head. Bush has killed Kyoto and assured businesses regulatory clarity by launching an international system that the United States will heavily influence, if not control outright.

[…]

Ultimately, the Europeans are looking not just at a policy defeat, but also at the union's strategic failure to have any joint foreign policy. Kyoto/environmental issues have long been the only significant program in which the union has managed to make its voice heard globally. Should Europe continue to champion Kyoto now, it not only will be left out in the cold, but it also will face sharp internal debate about the reasons for deeply cutting emissions when no one else is. Several European governments already are suing the European Commission over climate-related regulations they consider too restrictive, while a newfound Polish bellicosity has led Warsaw to threaten vetoes over this and a wide raft of issues.

For those who believe that nothing but firm caps, as in the Kyoto Protocol, will forestall global warming, this is an unmitigated disaster. Those who feel that any successful global policy has to include the major non-European emitters, however, will see this is a successful first step in a way that Kyoto never was.

With this in mind, conceivably the most important paragraph in the G-8 declaration as it pertains to climate change was the following:

We therefore reiterate the need to engage major emitting economies on how best to address the challenge of climate change. We embrace efforts to work with these countries on long term strategies. To this end, our representatives have already met with the representatives of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa in Berlin on 4 May 2007. We will continue to meet with high representatives of these and other major energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting countries to consider the necessary components for successfully combating climate change. We welcome the offer of the United States to host such a meeting later this year. This major emitters’ process should include, inter alia, national, regional and international policies, targets and plans, in line with national circumstances, an ambitious work program within the UNFCCC, and the development and deployment of climate-friendly technology.

Game, set, and match, folks!

What the media are likely not going to share with you this evening and tomorrow is that George W. Bush in the past week just made the U.S. the major player in this debate, and that the G-8’s inability to move the discussion about greenhouse gas emissions caps further along likely means the end of Kyoto.

Indeed, now that Bush has gotten China and India to agree to serious talks about shared “green” technologies, America is now positioned to benefit economically from such alliances rather than see its economy pummeled by capricious Kyoto targets. And, the EU will be forced to go along or become totally vestigial in foreign policy matters.

Just consider this when Katie, Charlie, and Brian tell you this evening that President Bush was a big loser at this summit.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.