PRESIDENT Bush has a strange -- and sometimes revealing -- sense of humour.
At the closing session of the G8 summit in Japan on Wednesday he ended what will be his last remarks in this forum with these words: “Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter”. After some awkwardness most of the other leaders present took this to be intended as a joke and laughed a little. The fact is, of course, that the United States is indeed the world's biggest polluter and that during eight years of international debate on global warming and climate change President Bush has consistently done everything he can to block or retard progress in measures to control the earth's carbon emissions. This has provided countries like China and India with just the opportunity they wanted to say that unless America takes the lead there is no point in their holding back industrial growth. At the G8 summit this week Mr Bush finally gave some ground by agreeing that he would “seriously consider” a proposal for a 50 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2050. Well, Gee thanks, Mr President -most encouraging that you will be seriously considering what might be done when you no longer have the power to do it. This concession was an empty gesture. Hopefully, though, either John McCain or Barack Obama will live up to their campaign remarks about the threat from global warming and the need for the United States to play a lead role in tackling it - 2050 is nearer than it seems.