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Bush's imperfect world

An intentional misleading of the public. A trick by which the US could avoid any binding targets. These are the words used by the critics of last month's conference in Washington called by US President George Bush.

  • Autor: Globe Media /  Reuters
• Autor: Globe Media / Reuters

An intentional misleading of the public. A trick by which the US could avoid any binding targets. These are the words used by the critics of last month's conference in Washington called by US President George Bush.

The idea behind the two-day meeting of the 16 countries emitting the most greenhouse gases was simple: Let's start thinking about how much we will cut emissions in the future and how to make sure the reduction really happens. But there is a catch: The talk is of non-binding targets, not binding limits with penalties for those who fail to meet them.

„A voluntary approach to reducing greenhouse gases is hardly likely to be more effective than voluntary speed limits on the roads,“ said John Ashton, representative of the UK's Foreign Office, according to The New York Times.

President Bush is known as an opponent of binding pledges, and he deserves much of the related criticism. To dismiss the importance of the conference as a whole, however, would be a bit short-sighted.

First, almost no one doubts that the US will have binding limits in the future. President Bush's era is coming to an end, and the Democrats as well as some Republicans are calling for federal legislation on reducing emissions. At the local level, a number of US states from New England all the way to the West Coast plan to take similar steps. The industries themselves are calling for…

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