Environmentalists: Bush Backtracks On Vow

After years of saying U.S. involvement in a mandatory global greenhouse reduction plan is contingent upon participation by China and other developing nations, the Bush administration is now rejecting such proposals, according to environmental leaders observing Bali's climate change conference.

"The U.S. has fundamentally been talking the talk but not walking the walk," Philip Clapp, deputy managing director of the Pew Environmental Group, told reporters via teleconference this morning. "The real watershed at these talks is that developing countries, including China, have come forward and for the first time" talked about participation.

Meanwhile, rain forest nations are emerging with plans to reduce deforestation in exchange for carbon credits under a cap and trade system. "Unfortunately, the position the United States has taken is the administration can't seem to find a way to say yes to these proposals," Clapp said. Canadian environmental leader Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre called the developments a "deal maker." But insiders say things are falling apart in Bali. Clapp referred to "enormous anger in developing countries because they have come forward and done exactly what President Bush has been saying."

Senate Democrats Monday night rushed a letter to Yvo de Boer, secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that sought to undercut the administration's hard-line stance in the negotiations. The letter describes congressional progress on a climate change bill and attempts at emissions reductions through the stalled energy bill, while trumpeting action at the state and local levels. The letter urges Bali participants to "take encouragement from these recent developments in our country" and possibly alludes to Democrats' optimism that the party will win the White House and thus change the tenor of future climate negotiations, ending with the line: "Change is happening now, and even bigger changes are on the horizon."

By Bret Schulte