Barroso must hammer climate message home to US

Tensions between the US and the EU cannot hope to be healed until the Bush Administration agrees to take a tough stance on combating climate change issues, according to environmentalists.

Green group Friends of the Earth (FoE) Europe has urged EU President Jose Manuel Barroso to confront US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her current trip to Europe, asking her what the Bush Administration proposes to do to fight climate change.

The growing rift between the US and Europe can only be closed once American joins the fight against rising temperatures around the world and takes action to prevent global warming, FoE Europe climate change campaigner Jan Kowalzig said.

President Bush has failed to address climate change as a serious global issue and refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, despite growing evidence from top scientists that it is one of the biggest threats currently facing mankind, and that the irreversible, catastrophic effects of climate change could begin to show in less than a decade unless action is taken now (see related story).

The call coincides with the European Commission launching a new climate strategy, which will be discussed by EU officials over the next few months. According to the Commission, the huge economic impacts of climate change would far outweigh the cost of fighting it.

It stated that it was vital to “broaden international participation” in order to make the strategy effective, which would include support from the US.

In her first major speech since taking office, Ms Rice completely failed to mention the greatest environmental threat facing the planet in Paris earlier this week. However, the Commission confirmed that climate change would still be firmly on the agenda when President Bush himself visited Brussels later in the month.

“The Commission’s new strategy should be acted on straight away,” Mr Kowalzig stated. “The plan says that investing in emission cuts today means paying less for climate disaster tomorrow. This includes the United States. It’s vital that Mr Barroso hammers home this message to the Americans.”

Although only accounting for 4% of the world’s population, the US emits more than 20% of total greenhouse gases, and US emissions have risen by 14% since 1990.

By Jane Kettle

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