Analysts: Bush Can Expect Little Support for Kyoto Stand

By Anthony Gunde | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

( - With the possible exception of Italy, it is unlikely President George Bush will rally the support of the European Union behind his opposition to the Kyoto protocol, environmental think tanks said.

Instead, Bush's European allies will likely receive his statement on global warming negatively, they said.

Newly appointed Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi angered his European counterparts recently when he called on them to acknowledge that Kyoto is effectively dead without U.S. support.

According to the United Kingdom's Independent newspaper, the move threatens to undermine the EU's strategy of putting pressure on Washington by pledging to ratify Kyoto next year with or without the United States.

Berlusconi's remarks also raise the possibility that Bush may now have some crucial support from Berlusconi over climate change when he meets EU heads of government in Sweden this week.

But the Center for International and Environmental Law in Washington says the prime minister's comments will unlikely change the stand of the rest of Europe.

"The fact that all of the European nations, except for Mr. Berlusconi, agree with the Kyoto protocol, will not push them back from ratifying the treaty next year," said Donald Goldenberg, an attorney with the Center for International and Environmental Law.

Berlusconi's objections to Kyoto may have been bolstered by strong support from some sections of industry in Italy where the employers' federation has pledged its backing to the new premier, analysts said.

Goldenberg said he expects the EU nations will reiterate their support for the Kyoto treaty to Bush although the U.S. president does not indicate he will change course on the protocol.

"His speech at the Rose Garden [Monday] clearly indicated he will not ratify the Kyoto treaty," said Goldenberg. Hours before leaving for Europe, Bush expressed commitment to increased environmental research, but pointed out that the Kyoto pact would not work.

"Kyoto is in many ways unrealistic," he said. "The world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gas is China, yet China was entirely exempted from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol," Bush said.

National Environmental Trust, a think tank in Washington, said although Bush has received support from Italy's Berlusconi, his statement before the European tour is likely to be received coldly by the rest of Europe.

"President Bush's statement on global warming isn't likely to make his meetings with European leaders any easier. Research just won't sell any more as a serious response to global warming. It is seen as just another way for the United States to delay real action to cut pollution," said Phillip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

Clapp said the president sent the Europeans a clear message that America is not ready to take the lead in fighting global warming.

The 1997 Kyoto pact called on industrial countries to cut carbon dioxide and other gas emissions by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. This would mean an approximate 7 percent decrease from current emission levels and a 30 percent reduction in energy use, analysts said.