U.N. Climate Klatch Today, Bush Plays Hookey


While heads of state and other top officials from more than 150 countries are meeting today at the United Nations to build momentum for end-of-year climate negotiations in Bali, one notable no-show rankles: President Bush will be skipping all of the day's events but the dinner.

The informal high-level event, which takes place in New York City the day before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly's annual General Debate, aims to "facilitate an exchange of views and to galvanize political will" for the Climate Change Conference to be held in Bali in December 2007. A follow-up to Kyoto summit in 1997, the Bali meeting is expected to advance a comprehensive global agenda on climate-change policy for the years following 2012.The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bush will instead be hosting his own gathering of world leaders in Washington later next week, a meeting with the same stated goal—to reduce the carbon emissions blamed for climate change—but an entirely different tack on how to achieve it.

According to his aides, Bush hopes to persuade the nations that produce 90 percent of the world's emissions to come to a consensus that will allow each, including the United States (natch), to have the latitude to determine its own policies, rather than having limits imposed by any pesky international treaties. This approach sets the stage for another hold-out by the United States to agree to any binding international agreement intended to slow or reverse the emissions linked to rising temperatures.

"It's our philosophy that each nation has the sovereign capacity to decide for itself what its own portfolio of policies should be," said James Connaughton, Bush's chief environmental adviser, tells the Chronicle. ::The San Francisco Chronicle

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