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Bush and the Ridiculous Climate Situation

By Ed Koch

At the meeting of the Group of 8 held last week in Germany, a major issue was achieving the goals of the Kyoto treaty, which went into effect in 1997. The United States Senate has refused to ratify the treaty.

The position of President Bush has been that the U.S. would not agree to mandatory goals, nor would we agree to any regulation of greenhouse gases unless China and India were bound by the same agreement. China and India, which have rapidly growing economies, were exempted then from the treaty because they are considered developing nations. Both China and India have recently reiterated that they will not be bound by Kyoto.

The U.S. has been criticized sharply by the leaders of other nations and by advocacy groups for its position on Kyoto -- refusal to ratify and subject itself to mandatory reductions.

The New York Times summed up what happened at the G-8 meeting: "The United States agreed to 'consider seriously' a European plan to combat global warming by cutting in half worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, averting a trans-Atlantic deadlock at a meeting here of the world's richest industrial nations." The Times also reported, "If ways cannot be found to foster emission cuts in fast growing China and India, any progress in industrialized countries is likely to be swamped by rapidly increasing pollution, particularly in Asia"

China recently passed Japan to become the second largest consumer of fossil fuels -- oil and coal -- immediately following the U.S. The Times reported on June 5th, "China, with the world's fastest growing major economy, had been projected to surpass the United States by 2009 or 2010 as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, which scientists say cause global warming. But China's coal-based, high-polluting economy is growing so rapidly that the chief economist for the International Energy Agency is now predicting the country could become the global emissions leader as soon as this year."

This is prelude to the most interesting article I have read in years on the subject of Kyoto and greenhouse gases, which appeared on the op ed page of the Wall Street Journal, authored by Kimberley A. Strassel. To the best of my knowledge and surprisingly, the vital information has appeared nowhere else. Ms. Strassel reported: "There's been a capitulation on global warming, but it hasn't happened in the Oval Office. The Kyoto cheerleaders at the United Nations and the European Union are realizing their government-run experiment in climate control is a mess, one that's incidentally failed to reduce carbon emissions. They've also understood that if they want the biggest players on board -- the U.S., China, India -- they need an approach that balances economic growth with feel-good environmentalism...Yesterday's G-8 agreement acknowledged those realities and tolled Kyoto's death knell. Mr. Bush, 1; sanctimonious greens, 0...President Bush's approach is...[to] allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower CO2 emissions...Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets...meanwhile in the U.S., under the president's oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period."

So here we have a ridiculous situation: the U.S. is being castigated by environmentalists and most world leaders even though it has done the most to reduce greenhouse gases. Isn't that almost always the case? When it comes to pulling our weight in global matters that are considered "good" it is the U.S. which usually far exceeds other countries, but it gets scant recognition for its good deeds. One case that comes to mind is that the U.S. provides, according to the New York Times, "more than half the food aid that feeds hungry people around the world..."

I am both a supporter and critic of President Bush. I believe he was, and still is, surrounded by incompetents and worse. Two of those from the past who deserve the contempt of their country, and not the Presidential Medals of Freedom they received, are George Tenet, former CIA director and Paul Bremer, former U.S. administrator in Iraq, for their gross failures. Also on my list is the U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for his ongoing stream of incompetent actions and his shockingly poor memory.

I supported President Bush's reelection in 2004, saying I disagreed with him on every domestic issue, but agreed with him on the need to stand up to international Islamic terrorism, including that believed to be occurring in Iraq with the CIA-described efforts to achieve possession of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices. While I believe we have done all that we can do in Iraq militarily and can no longer bear the casualties and costs alone, we should withdraw unless our regional Arab and NATO allies join us with combat troops and share in the costs and the Shia Iraqi government shares its control of the government with Sunni and Kurds and distributes oil revenues to all three groups fairly. I do not support the President's willingness to go it alone if necessary, although -- unlike many of his harsher Democratic critics -- I admire his resolve and unflagging commitment to waging war against international Islamic terrorism.

The President's 32 percent approval rating -- even though it's higher than the approval rating of Congress -- must cause him enormous distress. I believe the President's appraisal of the danger of international Islamic terror, derided by so many, including so many of the Democratic candidates for President will ultimately -- after he has left office -- cause him to be elevated in the pantheon of presidents and awarded historic stature, as happened to President Harry Truman, who left office an unpopular figure.

I will always remember with pride that when President Bush came to New York City and spoke at the Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street on January 31, 2007 at an event held by the Association for a Better New York, he said at the opening of his speech, "And it's good to see my buddy, Mayor Ed Koch. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming." At that same occasion when he left the lectern and came down to shake hands with those in the audience, I will always recall that he -- having been told by mutual friends that I was worried the personal attacks on him which have gone on for so long would affect his spirit -- whispered in my ear, "Don't worry about me, I'm alright."

Mr. President, I do worry about you. I pray for your good health and continued high spirits.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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