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US aims to ease criticism in fighting climate change
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The US-hosted second climate meeting of major economies kicked off Wednesday, but many observers believe the active posture of the Bush administration is intended to fend off strong criticism.


The idea of bringing the world's major economies for climate change talks was initiated by President George W. Bush in May 2007, when the United States was under growing pressure to contribute more to solving the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.


Although Bush repeatedly said the US government was serious about the climate change, yet whether the enthusiasm indicates a real shift in its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions or merely a superficial act to ease such a blame still remains unclear.


Given the negative role that the US has played in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not much can be expected from the Hawaii meeting.


"This meeting could be another nonevent, or worse, a cynical diversion," said Jeff Mikulina, Hawaii chapter director of the Sierra Club, America's largest and most effective environmental organization.


He told Xinhua that the US government is not serious about climate change and he believes it will not change its policy.


Mikulina's words echoed the suspicions voiced by many in European countries.


When Bush initially announced the plan last summer, the German Green Party's floor leader Jurgen Trittin accused the US president of developing a "strategy for hindering climate protection".


Without the participation of the countries most affected by climate change, Bush just wants to "sit down together with the biggest polluters to delay any binding emissions reductions targets for as long as possible", Trittin said.


Upset by the US refusal to deal with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, the European Union (EU) even threatened to boycott the Hawaii meeting.


Humberto Rosa, chief delegate from Portugal, which held the rotating EU presidency, warned that if the world major countries including the United States make no compromise on limiting carbon emissions, the EU would boycott the Hawaii meeting.


Huang Jing, former senior fellow in the Brookings Institution, a leading think tank in the United States, believed the Bush administration's move has reflected at least that the energy and environmental issues have drawn attention from the US policy makers.


"I tend to see the increasingly 'active' involvement of the United States in the global effort to secure energy supply and improve environment is a positive signal," Huang told Xinhua.


The US government and people have realized that it takes a global effort to address these global issues and therefore Washington began to be seriously interested in others' opinions, views, and approaches, Huang said.


But as the biggest energy consumer and polluter, what the United States is attempting to do is far from enough. "As the world's No. 1 superpower, the US needs to play a leading role in such a global effort," Huang said.


Former US Vice President Al Gore also urged the US policy makers to change laws, not just change "light bulbs" in tackling global warming.


"In addition to changing the light bulbs, it is far more important to change the laws and to change the treaty obligations that nations have," said the climate campaigner last week, in apparent reference to what he considers as the Bush administration's reluctance to initiate legislation on environmental control.


(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2008)

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