Bush blows cold on Blair’s global warming plans

George Bush has quashed any hopes of concerted international action on climate change after saying that he did not see the scientific case of climate change as being unanswerable.

In a blatant snub to Tony Blair, visiting Washington to seek consensus on the issue, Mr Bush offered no hope of backing the Kyoto Protocol at the G8 summit.

“We need to know more about it. It is easier to solve a problem when you know a lot about it,” Mr Bush said.

UK and US diplomats are now working on a joint declaration for the G8 summit to approve action on global warming, however, which would include China and India.

Mr Bush’s unwillingness to accept fully the scientific evidence for climate change also dealt a blow to the world’s leading scientific bodies. National science academies from G8 countries, including the Royal Society from the UK, issued a joint statement calling on G8 nations to:

“Identify cost-effective steps that can be taken now to contribute to substantial and long term reductions in net global greenhouse gas emissions,” and to “recognise that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and will likely incur a greater cost.”

Lord May, President of the Royal Society, said: “It is clear that world leaders, including the G8, can no longer use uncertainty about aspects of climate change as an excuse for not taking urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

“The current US policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS),” he added. “Getting the US onboard is critical because of the sheer amount of greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for.”

The US government’s unwillingness to accept the evidence behind global warming has been linked this week with the efforts of a former oil industry lobbyist who edited the Bush administration’s official policy papers.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) – a nonprofit public interest group – released documents this week which showed that former chief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality, Philip Cooney “repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between (greenhouse gases) and global warming.”

Mr Cooney was former “climate team leader” and lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute and is alleged to have routinely made changes to water down climate change evidence.

The released documents, printed in the New York Times, show handwritten notes by Mr Cooney emphasising certain phrases and deleting others to undermine the evidence for man-made global warming.

The news of the link has been played down by the White House but will undermine any confidence in the administration from many environmental groups who already believe that the US Government is acting on an agenda set by major oil companies.

However, Mr Bush tried to fob off those who doubt his commitment to action on global warming. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but we lead the world when it comes to millions of dollars spent on research on climate change,” he said.

If that money is spent on watering down the evidence presented by his own scientists, however, solving the problems could be a long way away.

By David Hopkins

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