Kerry Takes on the Bush Administration as U.S. ‘Policy Discord Plays Out at Bali Climate Change Talks’

The WaPo has an in depth piece on the Bali Climate Change talks and John Kerry’s role representing Congressional Democrats at the talks. Kerry, was the “sole standard-bearer for Congress” at the talks, although “about a dozen senators and House members had planned to attend. The WaPo noted that “most are stuck in Washington dealing with legislation.” Climate Change is tops on John Kerry’s list of issues.

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Kerry (D-Mass.), who traveled roughly 20 hours on commercial flights to get here and was making the same journey back for a series of Senate votes Tuesday, met over the weekend with representatives of more than a dozen countries, including Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia and Japan, held a news conference, and delivered a speech before a packed room of nongovernmental officials before heading back to Washington.

“The issue here is, are we serious about the process?” Kerry said in an interview near the end of what he called his “20 minutes in Bali” trip. About 10,000 delegates have gathered in an effort to map a path toward an international pact to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

“If scientists say a two-degree Celsius rise above pre-industrial levels could lead to disastrous consequences, then I think we have an obligation to embrace that goal, and you have to embrace the truth about how you get there,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s comments came on the same day the Bush administration’s chief climate negotiator, Harlan L. Watson, rejected a specific temperature rise or emissions reduction target. Even as many American lawmakers, business leaders and environmentalists insisted the United States is poised to change its climate policy, administration officials reiterated that they are willing only to embrace open-ended talks.

U.N. officials unveiled a draft text on Monday which includes “language calling on industrialized countries to cut emissions between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020,” and of course, Bush administration officials “rejected that proposal, along with language calling for all developed countries to adopt national emissions goals.” Apparently the Bush cronies were only there to talk… and negotiate…

We don’t think it’s prudent to start out with a set of numbers,” Watson said Sunday. “We’re here to talk about the differences and try to resolve them. That’s what negotiations are all about.”

At his news conference however, John Kerry described how “various federal, state and local officials have taken action on greenhouse gas emissions.”

We wanted to bring the message to Bali the United States is going to be at the table,” he said. “The United States is going to lead.”

Kerry, added that “he believes the Bush administration intended to negotiate in “good faith.”” 

In a related news piece, the U.K.’s right leanign Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that the Pope “condemns the climate change prophets.” The wingnuts are having a heyday over that one.

* Kerry is pictured above with Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who rock fans will remember is the founder of the the band Midnight Oil. Garrett’s “maiden speech” to the Australian Parliment can be found here.

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