Angela Merkel Should Press Ahead Without U.S. at G8 Summit


While I was camping over the weekend I missed the release by Greenpeace of a leaked U.S. memo to Germany regarding the G8 text on climate change.
In past years, when I’ve returned from meetings of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) or the Conference of Parties (COP) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, I have done my best to explain how out of step with its allies the U.S. is on climate change and the great lengths U.S. negotiators will go to obstruct international progress on the issue. To my great frustration, I usually feel unable to capture it.
The leaked memo shows illustrates precisely how the U.S. approaches these meetings.
But the G8 is different than the CSD and the COP, for one simple reason: people notice the G8. The G8 guarantees at least two and as many as four days of front-page news coverage. Being isolated diplomatically at the CSD or the COP can go under the radar screen, but not at the G8 Summit.
Angela Merkel and Co. will be under great pressure to cave in to U.S. objections and approve a weak document that the U.S. can agree to. She shouldn’t.
That’s what Tony Blair did during his presidency of the G8 in 2005, which was focused on poverty and climate change. Blair thought that after his loyalty and message discipline on Iraq that he could exact concessions from President Bush on other issues.
But Bush didn’t give an inch. Blair wanted the Gleneagles Summit to be the moment where he reclaimed his status as an equal in the so-called “special relationship.” Instead, Gleneagles serves to highlight Blair’s seeming acceptance of a lesser role for his country compared to the United States.
There’s a lesson to draw from Blair’s experience, and Merkel should see it clearly: the Bush Administration does not reward its friends for compromise.
If the U.S. insists on staking out a position that so clearly opposes sound science and the views of its G8 colleagues, Merkel should keep the document strong and force the U.S. to dissociate from the G8 position.
There’s nothing to be gained from compromise here, and given the spotlight that will be on the G8 Summit, there is much to be gained from exposing the Bush administration’s intransigence.
— Scott Paul


9 comments on “Angela Merkel Should Press Ahead Without U.S. at G8 Summit

  1. parrot says:

    What a sad pass has come here.


  2. Ralph says:

    Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe gave a great speech in Tokyo last week advocating that the world set a goal of halving emissions of GHGs by half in 45 years. Then he chickened out of his committment by not endorsing Merkel’s bold plans at the upcoming G8 summit on climate change. He endorsed the loser Blair non-plan of waiting for the holdouts (US,China,India) to declare when they are joining the next Kyoto protocol.


  3. john somer says:

    Marcia probably didn’t see the text of Sarkozy’s speech on the eve of his election in which he specifically mentioned climate change as one area in which France, a constant friend of the US, differed from the US position. He can’t diverge from that statement so soon after it was made


  4. Rich says:

    I like the way the edits discuss “the President’s” concerns rather than something less dictatorial like the policies of the US government. There’s a lot of this in the federal govt, such as the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Reduction (PEPFAR), but it seems particularly ludicrous as a comment on an official document, esp. given the illiteracy of this president.


  5. David N says:

    Remember, in BushWorld, the word “compromise” means: “do it my way.”
    As we have seen in the “compromise” the Democrats in Congress gave Bush on the war funding bill.
    In fact, in the simple life of Bush, “bipartisan” has the exact same meaning.
    The amazing thing is that this clown has gotten away with this shit for so long, and no one tells the truth about what’s being done to our country.


  6. Ben says:

    That’s an amazing document – from changing “supporting” and “assisting in” to “working towards” etc, to fundamentally excising any language that contends a scientific consensus on climate change you really can see the USG is totally out of line in terms of the power they expect to wield.
    But then, I guess Kyoto taught us everything we need to know about the World’s Only Superpower [tm]


  7. JohnH says:

    “People notice the G8. The G8 guarantees at least two and as many as four days of front-page news coverage.”
    Yes, the media notices the G8 but magically fails to comprehend what they’re talking about. Last year the hot topic was energy security. The media buried it. Instead they debated about the appropriateness of Bush’s giving Merkel a shoulder rub and gave broad coverage to Bush’s telling Tony Blair that Syria should press Hizbullah to “stop doing this shit”.


  8. Marcia says:

    It is not sure that Angela Merkel will manage to hold her ground if pressed by the US. Europe is not politically unified and the newly elected President of France, Sarkozy, a lightweight of the Blair type and ready to espouse theories that had their day yesterday may not be much of a back-up.
    The hot air spin machines function 24/24 world-wide so Merkel will need all the support she can get.


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