In yesterday's post, I talked of the disdain with which the Europeans in my exclusive conversation last Monday, in Berlin, held the American position in Kyoto. One American executive in the group, however, was not deterred from expressing her opinion openly and forcefully. Nancy Tafoya, an impressive senior executive with a distinguished banking career behind her, and now a senior advisor to major corporations on risk management, held firm that it was not in America's interest to sign the Kyoto accord and still is not.
Nancy's position in the conversation was vindicated by an article in yesterday's Financial Times entitled "Europe Must Trust America on Climate Change." Boyden Gray argues that beginning with the Montreal protocol, now nearly 20 years old, that the US is responsible for getting passed (no easy feat considering it involved 150 nations, each with special interests) the US has in fact been much more proactive in protecting the environment that we're given credit for.
Gray says, "The reality is that tough environmental issues in the US provoke tensions that are much more geographical and industrial than partisan in nature. Recall that the Senate voted 95-0 against the Kyoto protocol during the Clinton administration. It was Republican administrations that produced clean fuels, lead phase-down, the Montreal protocol and the emissions trading model for the European Union's emissions trading system."
He goes on to say that "Current Democratic energy proposals in Congress are not nearly as aggressive as President George W. Bush's programme for a 20 per cent displacement of gasoline by 2017 - which he will implement through his own regulatory authority if Congress fails to act. In recent years, the US has become the world's largest producer of biofuels."
Boyden Gray is US Ambassador to the European Union. Would have been great to have included him in our conversation in Berlin. That would have added even more provocation to the exchange.