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ENGLISH EXCLUSIVE: German Minister Says Part of Blame for Katrina Goes to Bush

Having sparked a veritable war of words across the Atlantic, Germany and its environment minister have come under blistering assualt for an editorial Mr. Tritten wrote for the left-leaning German daily Frankfurter Rundschau. Here's what he had to say - in its entirety.

By Jeurgen Trittin

Translated By Hartmut Lau

August 30, 2005

Original Article (German)    

German Environment Minister Jeurgen Trittin

Recently it was in the movies, now they’re real - the pictures of destruction that Hurricane Katrina has left in her wake remind us of nightmarish scenes from science fictions films by directors like Roland Emmerich. No single storm can be traced back to climate change, but three things can be scientifically proven beyond doubt. First, natural catastrophes are drastically increasing in frequency and magnitude. Second, climate change has made the generation of storms and floods in North America and Europe more probable. And third, mankind is contributing much to climate change by emitting greenhouse gases.

There is only one logical conclusion: greenhouse gasses must be radically reduced worldwide. To date the United States has ignored this necessity. The United States has a four percent of the world’s population and is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although their standards of living are roughly the same, the average American generates more than twice as much CO2 than the average European. Nevertheless the Bush administration, stating that international climate protection goals would damage the American economy, rejects them.

The American president ignores the economic and human damage that his country, by failing to protect the climate, inflicts on the world’s economy by natural catastrophes such as hurricane Katrina. We must ask ourselves what purpose this short-sighted policy serves. The Association of German Industry - with especially unfortunate timing - recently surprisingly endorsed Bush’s untenable “climate protection harms the economy” logic, now has no comment on the subject.

That said, it is precisely German industry that should be proud of having proven that no country’s economy is damned to surrender its energy destiny to oil. Germany’s energy transformation is the international model that demonstrates how promotion of renewable energy, energy-efficient technology and the determined use of the potential offered by reduced consumption yields economic, social and environmental success.

Our renewable energy law is being copied not only in Europe, but also in Asia and Latin America. The European emissions market we have promoted is already generating a marked movement of investment to low-emission power plants.

In contrast to The Association of German Industry, many Americans are no longer willing to follow their president’s erroneous climate policy. Signs that winds other than Katrina’s are blowing in Bush’s face are multiplying: The U.S. Senate demands binding goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and Bush’s fellow Republican, California Governor Schwarzenegger, recently made this demand a reality. The states in America’s northeast want to come together and form an emissions market based on the European model and Bush’s most loyal voters, the religious right, demand that America end its isolation in climate policy so that God’s creation can be protected.

Never before was it more important to strengthen Germany’s leadership role in international climate protection. We do need no loosening, but rather a tightening, of international reduction CO2 goals - in short, a Kyoto Two.  I will do everything in my power to initiate negotiations on this subject at the next World Climate Conference in Montreal.

If reason is to finally arrive in the headquarters of climate polluters, the global community must be prepared to hand America a completed proposal for the future of international climate protection. The Federal Government is ready to undertake this task.

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