Bush generates more EU climate angst

European, UN, figures criticise new US energy policy as MEPs extend campaign for ExxonMobil boycott

The USA has come under renewed attack on climate change this week as president George Bush announced a new energy policy intended to respond to the country's "worst energy crisis since the 1970s". Mr Bush said the policy, aimed mainly at strengthening energy security, intended achieving "a new harmony between our energy needs and our environmental concerns".

Speaking on Dutch television yesterday, however, Jan Pronk, chairman of international talks on the Kyoto climate protocol, said the plan was a "disastrous development" which would "undoubtedly" lead to increased emissions of carbon dioxide.

Today, a spokesman for EU energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio said it "confirms the US is not taking Kyoto into account" in its domestic policies. "If they ever want to come back [to the protocol] they will have to change some of their plans," he said. Notably lacking from the policy, the EU claims, are demand-related measures such as improved energy efficiency or fiscal measures to reduce consumption.

In a related development, senior scientists in 17 countries today criticised the US government for questioning the scientific evidence for global warming. In an editorial in today's issue of Science magazine, scientists representing a group of national academies of science say that doubts about the need to counter the risks of climate change raised by Mr Bush are "not justified".

Meanwhile in the European Parliament, Green MEPs yesterday launched a petition calling for a consumer boycott of US oil giant ExxonMobil. The party is claiming that MEPs from four of the assembly's five major parties have already backed its call and says it expects well over 100 of the parliament's 626 members to sign its petition.

The MEPs' action follows launch of an NGO-backed boycott campaign against ExxonMobil in the UK (ENDS Daily 8 May). The groups said yesterday that an independent opinion poll showed over half the UK's petrol buyers supported the move.

Follow Up:
US government, national energy policy, and Bush speech; Dutch environment ministry, tel: +31 70 339 3939; Science, tel: +1 202 326 6417, and the joint statement of 17 academies of sciences; Greens/EFA, and press release; Greenpeace UK, tel: +44 20 7865 8100, and opinion poll press release.

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