PER ONE DELEGATE, “WE COULD HAVE ANOTHER 20 YEARS OF TALKING ABOUT TALKING. WE NEED TO START DECIDING ABOUT DOING.”
President Bush’s call for each country to decide for itself how to rein in pollution, and his refusal to embrace mandatory measures, set the United States apart from most of the world community this past week and left many of the delegates to the Presidents conference on the environment less than impressed.
Per the NY Times, “he delegates to the conference listened impassively to Mr. Bush’s 20-minute address, interrupting him with applause only once, when he pledged that the United States would participate in global warming negotiations overseen by the United Nations.”
“The president made his speech. We took note of his speech,” said the chief Brazilian delegate to the talks, Everton Vargas. Vargas expressed displeasure that the conference’s entire agenda was set by the American government and that Mr. Bush “didn’t bring any new ideas, any new proposals in terms of the American position.”
Another delegate, John Ashton, a special adviser on climate change to the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, cited the failure of voluntary measures as suggested by President Bush calling such measures, ‘ineffective.’ “We could have another 20 years of talking about talking,” Mr. Ashton said. “We need to start deciding about doing.”
His sentiments were echoed by Fred Krupp, the president of Environmental Defense, one of America’s largest and most influential environmental groups, who admitted coming away ‘discouraged by the lack of tangible progress.’
Mr. Krupp, who addressed the conference on Thursday, noted “It was a lost opportunity. America needs to lead, and we can lead, but now the spotlight shifts to the Congress because the president has refused to accept the only path that’s ever solved an air pollution problem - and that’s mandatory legal limits.”
Perhaps the best description of Mr. Bush’s conference- ending speech comes from Massachusetts Democrat Edward J. Markey, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, who noted, “My fear is that the president has set aspirational goals that are really procrastinational.”
I don’t think the President, known for his deconstruction of the English language, could have said it better.