How to Lead and How to Mislead

According to the Financial Times, the US and Australia will on Thursday announce a plan they say will reduce the escalating emissions of greenhouse gases.

As part of the as-yet-unnamed scheme, they will  offer Asian nations China, India, and South Korea new technologies to reduce their emissions as well, early reports say.

The White House suggests the deal "goes beyond" the infamous Kyoto Protocol, even though the Kyoto Protocol called for substantial reduction in the emission of six gases, and, according to the Financial Times: "The partnership does not set any new targets for greenhouse gas emissions, or involve specific commitments on the transfer of technology from the US to developing countries."

It’s "largely symbolic," according to The Australia. The Financial Times and Reuters quote enviros who say this deal is an end run around Kyoto-style caps designed to reduce total emissions.

Jennifer Morgan, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s climate change program, said that "A deal on climate change that doesn’t limit pollution is the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired."

This post will not attempt to debate the merits of the plan, but will point out how differently the allied governments of Australia and the United States came to their publics with this plan.

In Australia today , the government released to the public an alarming report on the likely effects of global warming in that country.

A Federal Government study says Australia should expect higher temperatures, more droughts and severe storms. Temperatures could rise by up to 6C by 2070, affecting native plants and animals, damaging urban areas and threatening agriculture.

By contrast, the White House-neutered Environmental Protection Agency "made an 11th-hour decision Tuesday to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy," according to a story in Thursday’s New York Times. Why?  Maybe because:

The contents of the report show that loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980’s.

Releasing the report this week would have been inopportune for the Bush administration, its critics said, because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation six years in the making. The bill, as it stands, largely ignores auto mileage regulations.

Even if we don’t agree with Canberra’s involvement in this plan, we can respect them for leveling with their people. Under the Bush administration, by contrast, Washington does everything possible to mislead its public on this issue. More business as usual?

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