So they sent the dinosaur …
This week we were treated to the misty farewell meeting of Tony and George in DC – complete with the requisite adoring looks and bonhomie. But while the boys were holding their touching little lovefest, talking about their shared values and all, George was quietly stabbing Tony – who has championed action on Climate Change – in the back.
It seems the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was meeting at the same time in Bonn. And George sent our Chief Climate Change Negotiator to deliver a little bit of tough love to the gathered world experts.
"Described off-the-record by international colleagues as a "climate change dinosaur," our Negotiator in Bonn was once again Harlan Watson. Watson's appointment in 2001 caused a small stir when Environmental Defense released the text of a fax leaked to them in 2005:
A Feb. 6, 2001, fax sent to the White House by oil giant Exxon Mobil proposed involving Watson more closely in international climate negotiations.
The document — which Exxon Mobil spokesman Russ Roberts said was sent by the company but not written by any of its employees — suggested asking House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to make Watson, who at the time worked for the House Science Committee — "available to work with the team" of Americans attending international climate change meetings. (emph added)
Along with inspiring faxes that no one apparently writes, Harlan seems to have a tendency to get a tad whiny – before the Brussels climate change meetings in 2004 he complained :
"We use every opportunity that we can in many fora around the world to get our message out…We feel that people don't hear all that we are doing."
At this week's fora, he delivered the message of not just "all that we are doing" but also – it seems – all that we have no intention to do. While the Conference attempted to work on establishing a global Cap&Trade program, lowering Greenhouse Gas emissions, and preparing for the Kyoto2 meetings, Watson said:
"We don't believe targets and timetables are important, or a global cap and trade system," he said. "It's important not to jeopardise economic growth."
(which sounds oddly similar to the White House's approach to Iraq)
Watson may feel that "people don't hear" his message, but one of the Conference participants seemed to get the point:
Kevin Conrad, the chief negotiator for Papua New Guinea, which has emerged as a leading voice among poorer nations, said the US was "impotent" on climate change and that the impotence came from the top.
"There is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality," said Mr Conrad. "Saying 'we're taking it very seriously' but not putting any serious tools in place to do anything. The missing link is the White House, where there's no vision and no direction."
Credit: Drunken Space Dinosaurs from Space Dinosaur.