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U.S. Doubtful on Timely Option to Climate Pact

April 21, 2001|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration rejects the Kyoto, Japan, global warming treaty "under any circumstances" and sees little chance that talks this summer will produce a suitable substitute, a State Department memo says.

Despite comments by a top U.N. official that the administration might be shifting its position, the cable to diplomatic and consular posts also said negotiations to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol do not appear to be leading to agreement.

"Certainly not as early as the July meeting in Bonn," said the cable, a copy of which was obtained by Associated Press. The cable was sent April 1, three days after President Bush announced his rejection of the treaty, and it offers "talking points" for diplomats to explain the administration's position.

A State Department official had no comment Friday.

The cable drew strong criticism from environmental groups. Some said the document shows that the administration's negative policies are based on ideology, not science as Bush contended. "The Bush administration has turned the United States into a rogue nation by rejecting the treaty," said Daniel Lashof, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The climate treaty aims to reduce levels of "greenhouse gases," which many scientists think are causing Earth to get warmer with potentially disastrous consequences. The pact sets a goal that by 2012, industrialized countries will have cut heat-trapping emissions an average 5.2% below 1990 levels.

On March 28, Bush sparked an international outcry when he said that the treaty was unworkable and discriminatory against the U.S. and that he would not submit it to the Senate for ratification. He also reversed a campaign promise to treat carbon dioxide from power plants, a major target of the treaty, as a pollutant and a source of global warming.

"Does the United States oppose the Kyoto Protocol under any circumstance?" asked the State Department "talking points" document. "Yes, we oppose the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts many countries from compliance and would cause serious harm to the U.S. economy."

A Bush administration official denied that the United States has a timetable for concluding a review of climate change being done by Vice President Dick Cheney, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman and other agency heads.

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