Thursday, December 20, 2007

Climate Sanctions Sought Against US

German Party Launches Effort

by Judy Dempsey

BERLIN - The Social Democrats are calling for sanctions on energy-intensive US export products if the Bush administration continues to obstruct international agreements on climate protection, the party’s leading environmental specialist said yesterday.1219 02The move, after the United Nations climate conference last week in Bali, Indonesia, has won strong support from the Greens and other leftist groupings in the European Parliament. Those factions will renew their bid to impose such levies when the Parliament reconvenes next month.

It also signals a big effort by the Social Democrats to take the initiative on the environment and perhaps reshape it as a foreign policy issue that could affect relations between Berlin and Washington.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the lead on climate change, both domestically and internationally, leaving her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, frustrated. The opposition Greens have also lost ground on an issue they had long dominated.

But with three important state elections next year, the Social Democrats, still floundering in the opinion polls, are revamping their program to stem the decline of public support, party officials say.

“Merkel has made climate change a big issue and has tried to bring the Bush administration on board, so far without success,” said Ulrich Kelber, deputy parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats and an environmental specialist who is leading the campaign to impose levies on energy-intensive US products. Read More