IN OTHER WORDS: Short-sighted

The race to reduce carbon emissions before climate change irremediably alters life on earth will hold centre stage at the summit of industrial nations this week in the German resort of Heiligendamm. The central drama on the G-8 stage promises to be President Bush’s refusal to include the US in a consensus on setting targets and timetables for significant reductions in greenhouse gases. There is a tragic stubbornness in Bush’s stance on climate change. Just as his 2001 rejection of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol initiated a wave of resentment against the US, his resistance to the cap on carbon emissions now proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sure to revive doubts about America among its best friends. Bush ought to recognise that climate change endangers US national security and that a turn to conservation and renewable energy can create opportunities for growth.

Bush originally opposed Kyoto because China and India were not included, and their reluctance to accept new binding commitments after Kyoto runs out in 2012 remains a problem. But it will be easier for those two rising powers to demur if Bush scorns Merkel’s efforts to negotiate a new agreement for an emissions cap by 2009. America will sacrifice its credibility if it lags behind its G-8 partners in the fight to halt climate change.