Republicans Pressure Bush to Snub World Summit

LONDON, UK, August 16, 2002 (ENS) - Less than two weeks before world leaders gather for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, U.S. President George W. Bush has not publicly indicated whether or not he will attend. A letter from Republican Party and conservative lobbyists to Bush made public today by Friends of the Earth UK makes it clear that the President is under pressure not to attend the summit.

The letter, dated August 2, is signed by 31 political groups and individuals. It says “We applaud your decision not to attend the summit in person."

"Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992," the letter says, "the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas.”


President George W. Bush addresses the media as he departs the White House August 2. (Photo courtesy The White House)
The World Summit on Sustainable Development is sponsored by the United Nations as a 10 year follow up to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was attended by then President George Bush, father of the present President.

Other world leaders who are on the speakers list in Johannesburg include all the other heads of G8 countries - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi among them.

Signatories to the letter include representatives of seven think tanks that, according to figures in an official Exxon document, receive funding from oil giant ExxonMobil, ranked the second largest corporation in the world by "Fortune" magazine.


Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute signed the letter. (Photo courtesy CEI)
These individuals and organizations are pressuring President Bush to ignore the growing scientific evidence of global warming despite the fact that drought is now affecting almost half of the contiguous United States, according to the most recent report from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center.

Global warming is the result of heat-trapping greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere when coal, oil and gas are burned for power, transport or home heating, the vast majority of the world's scientists agree.

The lobbyists' letter states that “the least important global environmental issue is potential global warming, and we hope that your negotiators at Johannesburg can keep it off the table and out of the spotlight.”

The signatories funded by ExxonMobil are:

Friends of the Earth UK Director Designate Tony Juniper commented, “This letter casts a grim light on the iron triangle of the Bush White House, corporate polluters such as Exxon Mobil, and conservative lobbyists."


Tony Juniper heads Friends of the Earth UK (Photo courtesy FoE UK)
"They are determined to block any progress at the Johannesburg Summit. They have already leaned on President Bush not even to show up, and are now demanding that his negotiators do their best to wreck any hope of agreement," Juniper said.

"The case for a binding international agreement to control the behavior of destructive corporations has never looked stronger,” said Juniper who will be a prominent participant in the nongovernmental program at the World Summit.

Friends of the Earth is a member of the Stop Esso Campaign, launched with fellow coalition members Greenpeace and People & Planet in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in Spring 2001 shortly after President Bush took office. ExxonMobil were the most prominent members of the fossil fuel lobby opposing U.S. involvement in the Kyoto climate treaty.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 37 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their emissions of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Thirty-nine were to have been governed by the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, but the Bush administration in March said that the United States would not ratify the protocol. The Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard has followed the United States and backed away from the protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol will not take effect until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.

The European Union and Japan have ratified the treaty. It is expected that at the World Summit on Sustainable Development enough countries will announce ratification to cross that threshold.