20th Jun 2019

EU calls on US to fight climate change ahead of Bush visit

As the world's first international climate change treaty went into force on Wednesday - without the support of Washington- the EU is hoping that the US can still be persuaded to play a more active role in protecting the environment.

"I call on everyone on behalf of the 25 member states of the European Union, on all developed countries that have not ratified the treaty to do so and to undertake the same sort of effort to reduce CO2 emissions", said Luxembourg Environment Minister Lucien Lux on Wednesday (16 February).

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"I particularly call on the United States. The visit of the president of the United States next week to Brussels... will be an opportunity to make this invitation explicit", he added.

US President George W. Bush is to visit Brussels on 22 and 23 February and the EU is expected to raise the issue of climate change with him.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC that the "only solution" was to bring the Americans back into talks and make sure China and India get involved.

"The only solution, I'm afraid, is we have got to pull the Americans back into dialogue", he said.

The US pulled its support for the 1997 Kyoto Treaty in 2001 saying that it would be too damaging to the domestic economy if it were bound to the emissions limits set - it aims to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Scientists say that, without the US, it is probably more likely to be about two to three percent.

Backing away?

Despite these calls to the US for support, green groups have accused the EU of backing away from its leadership role on climate change.

"The EU has acknowledged that the impacts of climate change will cost a lot more than action to fight it. Yet the new strategy recommends to EU governments to give up the leadership role and stop moving until someone else moves", said Jan Kowalzig of Friends of the Earth Europe.

"This is a dangerous strategy and a slap in the face of people in developing countries who are already suffering from droughts, floods or mudslides, triggered by climate change as a result of emissions in industrialised countries".

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