on vacation—not at the World Summit on Sustainable Development,
where other world leaders think he should be
While leaders from more than 100 nations will be attending
the World Summit on Sustainable Development next week, U.S.
President George W. Bush will be wrapping up vacation at his
Crawford, Texas, ranch, a decision that has angered world
leaders and environmentalists, who claim that this is typical
of U.S. global environmental policy.
Secretary of State Colin Powell will lead a U.S. delegation
to the United Nations-sponsored conference, to be held in
Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4, many
are angered that Bush will not be attending.
18, the French newspaper Le Monde reported the aggravation
of Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zuel, German minister of cooperation.
“During the international summit in Johannesburg,” said Wieczorek-Zuel,
“it must be clearly signified to the United States that their
boycott of the Kyoto protocol is unacceptable.”
skepticism regarding the administration’s lack of concern
for environmental issues is shared domestically.
Bush administration is not engaging much of the rest of the
world on important issues like climate change,” said Mark
S. Epstein, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy organization
the World Federalist Association. “Our hope is that the summit
can be used to get the Bush administration to pay more attention
to the priority that nations in Europe and around the world
are paying to climate change.”
release from Powell’s office said the secretary would attend
the conference for the final two of its nine days. Frederick
Jones, a state department spokesman, said the United States
sees the summit as an “opportunity for the developed and developing
countries to build a shared vision to end poverty and foster
said the announcement of Powell’s attendance was positive,
and the WSSD will still be beneficial regardless of Bush’s
decision not to attend.
most important message is having a global summit that recognizes
that the most important environmental issues of our time need
to have a global response,” Epstein said. “There are expectations
that Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin and other leaders will
be there even if President Bush will not, and they are putting
the environment as a first priority for their countries and
the global agenda.”
the discussions on sustainable development will take place
a world away, the issues are relevant to the Capital Region,
according to Mark Dunlea, vice chairman of the New York state
about a billion people have no access to safe drinking water,
and in the Northeast, particularly Upstate New York, we are
known for our water resources,” Dunlea said. “With access
to clean water in the rest of the world declining, there will
be pressures for more development to make water a major export
most recent earth summit follows the United Nations’ 30-year
tradition of hosting international conferences to discuss
and implement plans of action to better the global environment
through sustainable development.
that does not utilize natural resources faster than the planet
can produce them would be considered sustainable,” said Dunlea.
“Dependence on petroleum products when we only have a supply
for another 100 years would not be considered a sustainable
national leaders will look to shore up agreements made at
prior earth summits and move forward with new ones. There
is hope for discussion about a global regulatory body to ensure
that nations follow the actions of the various treaties signed
at these conferences. According to Epstein, action to strengthen
the United Nations’ Commission on Sustainable Development,
the group currently charged with pushing nations to conform
with globally agreed-upon treaties, is long overdue.
CSD can only cheerlead and support change,” said Epstein.
“Compared to the World Trade Organization, which has the ability
to enforce trade treaties and force countries to react to
WTO edicts, there is no equivalent on the environmental side
of the equation, and that is a glaring gap.”
and others look forward to the Johannesburg summit as the
next step in the international agenda, many are critical of
the global environmental movement.
focus is going to be on these public-private partnerships
and using corporations to solve environmental problems, which
we are very cynical about,” said Wenonah Hauter, director
of energy and environment programs for the watchdog group
Public Citizen. “I think we need to have more of a grassroots
focus, and really that’s why we are participating at all.
It’s not for the summit, it’s for the strategy and the networking
with other civil society groups.”
said citizens of the developed world need to be wary of the
kinds of policies being implemented by their governments.
Concerned citizens should make sure further actions are not
continuations of resource depletion and exploitation of the
Third World, like creating a profitable industry for transnational
water companies from the need for access to clean drinking
of what’s done under the guise of sustainable development
is really about going in and raping and pillaging countries,”
Hauter said. “[We’re] letting foreign corporations have access
to the resources of those countries and saying this will provide
jobs and income, but that income usually only goes to the
very top strata and doesn’t benefit people.”
Green on Green
candidate Howie Hawkins announce financial-reform platform
Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for New York State comptroller,
was in Albany last Wednesday (Aug. 14) to announce his plan
to protect taxpayers against what he calls undue influence
by campaign contributors.
in front of the New York State Business Council in Albany,
Hawkins—joined by Kathy Curtis, Green Party candidate for
New York State Senate, and Pete Looker, Green Party hopeful
for the New York State Assembly—unveiled his three-point program,
which will, he said, clean up the state comptroller’s office.
comptroller’s office,” said Hawkins, “has been the vortex
of the legalized bribery system and kickbacks that have come
to characterize New York policies at the state level.”
said his three-point program would work to eliminate such
corruption by first disqualifying campaign contributors from
being eligible to receive contracts through the comptroller’s
office. He pointed out that the comptroller has been a target
for campaign contributions from businesses, who in return
want contracts with the office. “It has been documented that
shortly before or after those campaign contributions are made,
those interests get contracts,” said Hawkins. “Even if you
can’t get proof that there has been a ‘pay-to-play’ contribution,
it creates an aura of legalized kickbacks and bribery.”
and Exchange Commission has proposed similar plans on multiple
occasions, but Presidents Clinton and Bush both have killed
Hawkins added, he would like to see a democratically elected
pension board. “With over $100 billion in that pension fund,
it’s the only fund of that scale where there is just one person
who is the trustee,” he said. “Rather than have the comptroller,
who is an easy target for corruption, run the pension plan,
why not have an elected board totaling nine people: six elected
by public workers and retirees and three by the general public.”
The New York Common Retirement Fund is now worth $112 billion,
proposal presented by Hawkins calls for a Clean Money, Clean
Election campaign reform bill, which would provide public
financing to anyone who agrees not to take private contributions.
“This would be a way for people to run their campaigns, have
enough money to run their campaigns, without being dependent
on interests that are trying to buy influence,” said Hawkins.
“The comptroller is a target for these interests because he
is the single largest investor in the world.”
said that the problems with “crony/gangster capitalism” require
structural alternatives, not just more regulations. And he
thinks his plan could work.
capitalism easily degrades into gangster capitalism, where
criminals in suits have the same mentality of taking advantage
of people as criminals on the streets,” said Hawkins. “This
has now been exposed for all to see with the scandals at Enron,
Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco, Adephia and the others.”
a three-point plan, Hawkins is also calling for a package
of progressive tax reforms that would raise taxes on the richest
10 percent and on environmentally damaging products, while
lowering taxes on low- and middle-income people and on ecological
who works for the United Parcel Service and is a member of
the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, lives in Syracuse.
He was the Greens’ candidate for comptroller in 1998. He cofounded
the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1975 and the Green
Party in the United States in 1984.
may face off against Alan Hevesi (D/L/IP/WF), Bill Mulrow
(D/WF), John Faso(R/C/IP), James Eisert(LIBT), John Berry
(RTL) or Garifalia Christea(RTL) in the November election,
depending on the outcome of the various party primaries.