After years of Bush administration rhetoric pushing for international cooperation on renewable energy technology to combat global warming, the Bush administration sent a grand total of zero participants to a major international renewable energy conference in Berlin, Germany that ended late last week. In response, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today, chiding the Bush administration for ignoring this conference and calling into question this administration's commitment to international cooperation on renewable energy and global warming.
The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming acquired the participant list for the conference, which showed nearly 200 representatives from over 50 countries attending the meetings, but not one U.S. participant. The U.S. Embassy in Germany indicated last week that it would only send staff as observers to the conference.
"The Bush administration talks a big game on cooperation, but is conspicuously absent when the world tries to cooperate on renewable energy and global warming," said Markey, who is Chairman of the Select Committee. "The planet needs a global commitment if we are to save it, and this slight to the international community will not solve anything, and only serve to reinforce the poor standing of this administration on the international stage."
The Berlin conference was convened to discuss the formation of an International Renewable Energy Agency. Delegations participating in this first-stage meeting intended to determine the objectives and goals of such an agency, as well as its organizational structure and funding. Rep. Markey and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) have introduced bi-partisan legislation that calls for the formation of just such an agency, and for full U.S. participation in such a body.
The lack of representation sharply contrasts with rhetoric from the Bush administration on what they see as the proper path towards combating global warming and energy issues, largely centered on international cooperation on technology exchange and development. On March 5, 2008, President Bush told an audience convened for a renewable energy conference in Washington, D.C.: "America is in the lead when it comes to energy independence; we're in the lead when it comes to new technologies; we're in the lead when it comes to global climate change -- and we'll stay that way."
"Just one month after talking big on renewable energy cooperation, this administration is doing little to back up those words," said Markey. "This calls into serious question the entire strategy put forth by the Bush administration to attack these critical issues."
The letter asks Rice to explain why there were no U.S. participants at the conference, and whether the President supports an international renewable energy agency.
The Bush administration continues to oppose any enforceable caps on emissions here in America or full participation in any international agreement.