United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised former Republican President George W. Bush for kickstarting efforts to put together a global agreement to fight global warming.
“That was the beginning of our success,” Ban told The Associated Press Saturday, referring to Bush’s attendance of U.N. global warming talks in 2007.
After refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the U.S. changed its policy in 2007 and began seriously talking about entering into a global climate treaty, according to Ban. The U.N. chief said he was “very much grateful” to Bush for being open to a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“Suddenly, you came to my mind. Then I told the delegation head, ‘Do what the secretary-general of the U.N. wants to do,’” Bush allegedly told Ban in 2007.
Ban’s comments are probably surprising because they rub against the stereotype of Republicans being opposed to international global warming regulations. Ban’s account also contradicts statements made by Bush’s top U.N. negotiator Paula Dobriansky in 2007, who said “she [Dobriansky] changed her mind because of pleas from smaller countries and not instructions from Washington,” according to The Hill.
The U.S. turnaround in Bali allegedly allowed future talks to progress, culminating in the U.N. agreement approved by nearly 200 countries in Paris earlier this month. The new agreement has been hailed by politicians and environmentalists despite the fact it’s not legally binding.
Ban’s reminiscing of Bush’s openness to a climate treaty could also be a tactic to soften Republican opposition to the current U.N. agreement. Republican lawmakers have vowed to block any U.N. treaty brought before them and have even voted to repeal U.S. global warming regulations.
“What is significant for the United States is that we can expect the administration to cite this ‘agreement’ as their excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the U.S. economy not only including utilities, but petroleum refining, all manufacturing, agriculture, and others,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said after the U.N. agreement was approved earlier this month.