In the run-up to the Bali Climate Conference that opened Monday, the administration of US President George W. Bush established contact with representatives of the Chinese and Indian governments in an attempt to curb progress on climate protection initiatives, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned from a source familiar with the White House’s Bali strategy.
According to the source, Washington is hoping that the two greenhouse gas emitters will openly declare during the conference that they are unwilling to accept any binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases — at least not as long as the US is unwilling to do more or if the Western industrial nations do not provide them with more financial aid for climate protection initiatives. If successful, the US could use the tactic to prevent itself from becoming an isolated scapegoat if negotiations in Bali end in a stalemate.
“Bush’s people don’t want to make any real progress in the next two weeks,” one Washington insider said. “But they also don’t want to be severely criticized internationally again. So now the White House is seeking discreet ways of preventing binding limits on emissions.”
Indirect teamwork with China and India appears to be regarded as one such way — and Americans apparently feel it is essential. One problem is that the US can no longer count on one of its closest allies in its refusal to adopt more rigid climate protection rules: The first official act of Australia’s new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when he entered office Monday was to sign the Kyoto Protocol. He wants to try to ratify it in parliament later this week.
The strategy talks with China and India, though, are a glaring contradiction to the official statements coming from the US delegation before the start of the world climate conference. Just last week, Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state and the chief US representative in Bali, said week: “We’d like to see consensus on the launch of negotiations. We want to see a Bali roadmap.”
Can’t say this news surprises me. Nor will my jaw drop to see Uncle Steve dutifully follow Dubya’s aspirational direction (as is his wont). Regardless of what ultimately happens, it’s safe to say that Bali will likely provide many, many award-worthy climate change Kabuki performances.