It is remarkably easy to criticise President Bush's stance on climate change, although that does not make it wrong.
His speech this week setting a voluntary target to curb US carbon emission growth by 2025 was little short of a disgrace, bearing all the familiar hallmarks of his administration's climate change non-strategy.
There was the now familiar rhetoric on clean technology, with no clear idea on how adoption of these technologies can be accelerated; a defence of the absolute primacy of jobs and the economy, with no understanding that a failure to tackle climate change will do untold damage to the very same economy; opposition to proposed changes to environmental legislation, with little thought given to what can be done instead; and a complete failure to accept the scale and urgency of the threat, with even those targets that were outlined bearing no relation to recent climate change science.
And yet while the frustration of those governments trying to cope with Bush's constant attempts to undermine the development of a global legislative framework is entirely understandable am I the only one who finds their constant sniping at the US a little annoying. Funny, I'll admit, but annoying all the same.
Bush's latest plan (if you can call it that) is so unsophisticated that the soubriquet "Neanderthal", given to it yesterday by the German environment minister, has a stinging accuracy. But you have to ask if likening the US President to a caveman is really the best gambit, particularly when the Bush team still have eight months with which they could do untold damage to international climate change negotiations.
Europe's kneejerk criticism of Bush's would also carry far more clout if the continent's rhetoric was matched more fully by its action.
Germany is in a better position than most to point out the flaws in the US administration's thinking (or lack there of) given its flagship renewables policy and burgeoning clean tech sector. But it is also worth noting that when it comes to protecting its own carbon intensive industries the German government is just as craven as Bush, lobbying Europe for carbon emission standards for new cars to be weakened and reportedly pushing for some aspects of the EU's climate change plan to be watered down.
The UK government should also think hard about pushing for an expansion of global carbon trading when its own plans for a new cap-and-trade scheme increasingly look like an ill thought out mess. While Europe's position on biofuels is just as reckless and damaging as Bush's, regardless of what the Brazilian government thinks.
Moreover, it is worth noting that the biggest cleantech hub in the world remains in the US. The Californian clean tech cluster may have developed despite rather than because of Bush's policies and may be being hampered by the White House's absurd reluctance to extend renewable energy tax credits beyond the end of this year, but it is still proving far more successful than rival centres in Europe.
For example, while the UK has this week seen the opening of just its second hydrogen fuel station, California already has 25 and has just earmarked $7.7m for rapid expansion of the embryonic network.
None of this is to excuse Bush's climate change policy, which has proved more hindrance than help to green businesses, politicians and indeed civilisation's chances of surviving past the end of the century. But you have to ask if Europe would be better served in the long run by quietly getting on with its own climate change plans and proving they can work effectively, while it waits to greet a more enlightened incumbent to the White House.
Bush's plan deserves condemnation, but there is equally some merit in the administration's attempts to, as US negotiator James Connaughton puts it, "steer away from rhetorical commitments that have no prayer of being met".
Between the sanctimony of Europe's rhetoric and the short sightedness of White House interests perhaps lies a happy middle ground where investment and legislation can work together to deliver a genuinely low carbon economy – I think it's called Iceland.
Have a good weekend,
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