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Top Politics News
Bush, Schroeder Disagree on Kyoto Pact
Mar 29 2001 4:17PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush and a "straightforward" German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder disagreed over an international global
warming treaty on Thursday in an otherwise "constructive" White House
"There was a lot of agreement.... We agreed on practically everything
except for one thing and that was no surprise to you -- the Kyoto
protocol," Schroeder told reporters as the two leaders sat
side-by-side in the Oval Office.
Bush defended his rejection of the treaty aimed at reducing emissions
linked to global climate change, saying it was more important to keep
the U.S. economy on track but pledging to work with Germany and other
European allies "to find new ways of thinking" about greenhouse gases.
"Our economy has slowed down in our country," Bush said. "We also
have an energy crisis. And the idea of placing caps on carbon dioxide
does not make economic sense for America."
The two leaders met a day after the administration said Bush
unequivocally opposed the Kyoto pact. Schroeder asked the United
States last week to abide by the agreement, which the European Union
calls integral to relations with Washington.
The United States is the biggest producer of man-made carbon dioxide
emissions, which many scientists say is the main greenhouse gas
causing global warming. The gases are emitted by power plants,
automobiles and other industrial operations.
The 1997 Kyoto treaty aims to reduce major industrialized nations'
emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 to
avoid disastrous weather changes.
"They didn't fight about this," a senior U.S. official said after the
meeting. "The chancellor knew our position, we knew his position, and
so the emphasized what we do agree on, which is that greenhouse gas
is an important issue, we're going to work together and we simply
will agree to disagree on Kyoto."
But Frank Loy, the lead negotiator for climate change issues under
former President Bush, called Bush's decision "a total, unmitigated
"They're (allies) very angry for several reasons ... on a personal
level since they put in enormous amounts of effort. They assumed
there would be changes (with Bush), but not a withdrawal," Loy said.
Schroeder, speaking through a translator, said the Bush
administration would have to take a decision on the protocol at an
international climate conference in Bonn this summer and suggested
the United States might opt out of the treaty without repudiating it.
"The president, and his government will be called upon to take a
decision as to how they want to play it ... whether they will, on the
one hand, give an opportunity to others to still continue with what
they think is right by not voting against it," he said.
A senior State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity
said the United States had no intention of repudiating the treaty.
"If you've signed a treaty but haven't ratified it, you're just
obligated not to undermine the purposes of the treaty which is a very
broad obligation which means we don't do anything that directly
threatens the purpose of the treaty," the official said.
Schroeder said his meeting with Bush took place in a "very, very
friendly spirit" and that the U.S.-German relationship could "take
the strain" of the dispute over global warming.
"It was a very, very pleasant impression I had, indeed," Schroeder
said. "It was wonderful to see the degree of openness that we had,
the frankness we had in the meeting, and also the level of agreement
that there was between us."
Bush described Schroeder as a "straightforward person" and said they
had gotten "to the point." He praised Germany's role in helping bring
peace to Macedonia and stabilization to the Balkans.
The two leaders also discussed U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense
system, designed to guard against attacks by "rogue" states, which
has upset Russia, Germany's other major partner outside the European
While Germany wants Washington to take Russia's opposition seriously,
Berlin's resistance has softened. It says if Washington is determined
to proceed, it wants a stake in the technological advances and
economic benefits. Bush said the United States would be willing to
"In terms of whether or not, you know, we develop a technology that
will help make Europe more peaceful or America peaceful or the Middle
East more peaceful, whatever it is, I'd be more than willing to
discuss the technologies and share technologies with our friends."
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