Two of the leading causes of recent anti-Americanism have been the Bush administration's approach to human rights issues and its opposition to the environmentalism enshrined in the Kyoto process. The President Elect has used the last seven days to confirm his intention to break with President Bush's record on these issues. Last weekend Senator Obama promised to close Guantanomo Bay and end waterboarding and similar forms of aggressive interrogation. This week he has also confirmed a more consensual approach to the issue of climate change. London's Independent newspaper highlighted two quotations from Barack Obama that, it headlined, proved that the USA was coming "in from the cold":
"We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them by an additional 80 percent by 2050."
But Washington's new position coincides with a cooling of enthusiasm for environmental policies in the rest of the recession-struck world. Climate change sceptic Benny Peiser has collected some key quotations to illustrate the apparent shift of mood:
"EU countries may agree before the end of the year on the basic
principles and structure of an agreement on the European Commission's
energy and climate package, but it is unlikely that a deal will be
finalised, an ambassador of one of the bloc's 27 member states told
EurActiv. Efforts to forge an agreement on the package have run into
opposition from a group of 'new' member states, led by Poland, who say
the plans could wreck their industries and lead to massive job losses,
particularly in the context of economic recession."
--EurActiv, 19 November 2008
"Poland has rejected an EU proposal for its coal-fired power stations to
be temporarily exempted from buying all their greenhouse gas permits, a
move aimed at averting a Polish veto of the bloc's climate package, a
senior Polish official said Wednesday."
--AFP, 19 November 2008
"Canada's liberal leadership candidates Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff
would ditch the Green Shift carbon tax, outgoing leader Stephane Dion's
signature policy, on grounds it was rejected by voters on election day."
--Juliet O'Neill, Canwest News Service, 19 November 208
"Climate change is fading as a priority in the Pacific Rim as the gloomy
state of the global economy takes precedence, a survey of opinion
leaders showed Wednesday. "You see the same shift in focus in the
public away from climate change questions to questions of economic
survival and growth," said Woo, president of the Asia Pacific
Foundation of Canada."
--AFP, 19 November 2008