Better the devil you know

Will George W Bush as US president be better than Al Gore for the global environment?

Published: Monday 15 January 2001

now that the drama over the us presidential election has ended, it is time to understand what is in store. Domestic politics of the us has a direct bearing on most environmental negotiations, and us representatives seldom miss an opportunity to use it as an instrument of coercion, one example being the Republican-dominated senate's refusal to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

At the November climate talks in The Hague, those keen on a watered-down deal were constantly using George W Bush as a bogey. They argued that the world community should give in to us obduracy, as the chances of the us signing any sort of agreement would disappear if Bush came to power.

Bush has openly rubbished the threat of climate change, saying that the science of climate is little understood, despite numerous studies over the past three years that prove global warming is a greater danger than previously estimated. us vice president Al Gore, the Democratic party candidate, has carefully crafted a 'greener' image. On the face of it, Gore seemed a safer bet for the environment. Not quite.

The us has consistently tried to ensure that environmental negotiations safeguard its business interests first. There has been no acceptance of the fact that the American way of life is seriously damaging the environment. Within this us vaudeville are several shades and colours. There are ostriches with their head in the sand, like Bush, who openly oppose common sense. And then there are those who give the impression of being on the right side of the moral and ecological balance, and yet end up serving business interests. Gore has been such a one.

One of the main forces behind the Kyoto Protocol, he helped ensure a treaty that safeguards us economic interests -- built on trading of cheap carbon credits. An ineffective treaty like Kyoto will make millions of people in poorer countries, already struggling to make ends meet, more vulnerable to climate change.

To give the devil its due, the Republican senate has been a serious drag to the Clinton/Gore administration. Just for this, if nothing else, it is better to have a Republican president. The world community can negotiate with the us as one entity. It has already shown some courage in standing up to the us in The Hague. Now it can devise a more effective strategy to deal with usa .

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