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Bush left in the cold by climate allies
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
26 December 2004
George Bush's two closest allies in his attempt to sabotage international
action to combat global warning last week dramatically distanced themselves
from him.

Saudi Arabia announced that it had approved the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty
on climate change which President Bush has been trying to kill. And
Australia, while still rejecting it, parted company from the United States
by saying that it was prepared to negotiate its successor.

The moves follow a tense international negotiating session in Buenos Aires
where, as The Independent on Sunday reported last week, the US brought the
talks to the brink of collapse by obstructing even anodyne proposals. This
breached an assurance given by President Bush in 2001, when he pulled out of
the protocol, that America would not try to stop other countries reaching

New negotiations are due to begin next year on a successor to Kyoto, which
will come into force in February, following Russia's decision to ratify it
last autumn. Tony Blair regards progress on climate change as one of the top
priorities of Britain's presidency of the G8 group of the world's most
powerful nations.

US opposition endangers both initiatives, but Mr Bush suffered a blow on
Tuesday when the Saudi cabinet approved the treaty. A royal decree is being
prepared to endorse it officially. The decision is significant, since the
Saudis worked closely with the US in Buenos Aires, but the Australian
initiative is more important, as it has so far marched in step with the US
to try to kill negotiations.

Ian Campbell, Australia's environment minister, said it would be prepared to
enter an agreement to combat global warming. He warned that unless it was
reached, the world would be "in jeopardy", adding: "The difference between
the US and Australia is that we are prepared to engage in a new agreement,
so long as it is comprehensive."


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