- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2009

CLIMATE CZECH

The Czech Republic’s top environmental envoy is a passionate believer in climate change but often finds himself explaining to foreign officials why the Czech president dismisses global warming as so much hot air.

Making matters more complicated, President Vaclav Klaus continues to mock global-warming alarmists, as the Czech government holds the rotating presidency of the European Union and prepares for a major U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen in December.

“The president of the Czech Republic is not the same as the presidency of the EU,” Jan Dusik, the first deputy minister of the environment, told reporters in Washington this week.

The presidency rotates every six months among the EU’s 27 member nations, but no one leader actually holds the office. The presidency is held by the government as a whole.

As recently as Saturday, Mr. Klaus pooh-poohed global warming at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and criticized former Vice President Al Gore for his claims that climate change is caused by man-made greenhouse gases.

“I don’t think there is any global warming,” Mr. Klaus said. “Environmentalism and global-warming alarmism are challenging our freedom.”

He denounced Mr. Gore for refusing to “listen to competing theories.” Mr. Klaus was referring to a number of climate scientists who are questioning the causes of global warming. In December, 650 scientists, including many who served on the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, endorsed a U.S. Senate Republican report that debunked claims of a scientific consensus on global warming.

On his Washington visit, Mr. Dusik met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House climate adviser Carol Browner, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Dusik said they endorsed the EU’s recent climate policy, which sets a deadline in the year 2020 for the reduction of greenhouse gases to 20 percent below 1990 levels. Mr. Chu and Mrs. Browner did not commit the Obama administration to meeting those same goals, but they do expect Congress to deal with climate-change legislation by summer, Mr. Dusik said.

“We need the U.S. on board,” he added, emphasizing the importance of U.S. leadership on climate issues.

Under the Bush administration, the United States was “an observer” on the international climate debate, he said.

“Now,” he added, “we see the U.S. wants to be part of the deal.”

TWO-STATE TWO-STEP

The U.S. ambassador to Jordan this week dismissed proposals by former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton and others who advocate a “three-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would involve Jordan and Egypt as guarantors of peace.

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