|The Association of State Green Parties
Monday, April 23, 2001
Dominique Voynet, member of the French Green Party, talks about the European frustration with the sabotage of the Kyoto Treaty by the Bush and Clinton administrations
An invitation to Ralph Nader and U.S. Greens to tour Europe
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dominique Voynet, the French Environment Minister and a member of the French Green Party, met Friday, April 20 in New York with Tom Sevigny, an organizer of the Connecticut Green Party and co-chair of the Association of State Green Parties. Minister Voynet was in New York to attend the Commission on Sustainable Development, the United Nations agency in charge of implementing the agenda of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Ms. Voynet, who attended the international conferences on climate change in Kyoto in 1997 and in the Hague last year, talked of the anger over the Bush Administration's withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty. But Ms. Voynet also stressed her frustration with the American delegations at these summits and her unfavorable impression of American negotiators representing the Clinton Administration policy on global warming.
Commenting on the American delegation, Ms. Voynet said, "They always sought the path of least resistance, never attempted to articulate a higher set of ideals for the world environment, and made it quite obvious that the American way of life was not up for negotiations". The U.S., with 4 percent of the world's population, uses 25 percent of the world's energy resources.
Minister Voynet said the reaction in Europe to the Bush Administration's reversal on the Kyoto Protocols was an "outrage," but added that, behind the scenes, some countries are glad because the reversal gives them the license not to enact the Kyoto measures against global warming.
The Australian government, for instance, has officially stated that it will not abide by the agreement if the U.S. is not part of it. Some European countries, along with Japan and a political faction in Russia, are attempting to salvage the agreement.
Besides Minister Voynet and Mr. Sevigny, three other French officials attended the one hour meeting: Philippe Lacoste, political counselor at the French Embassy in D.C.; Genevieve Besse, diplomatic counselor assigned to the Environmental Minister; and Vincent Jacques le Seigneur, Director of the French Institute for Environment.
They also discussed a number of other issues, including the recent Global Green Conference, which issued a call for an international boycott of U.S. oil companies who had given major contributions to the Bush campaign, and the growth of the Green Party in France, the United States and the world.
Nuclear energy: not a renewable, safe energy source
In her presentation before the U.N.'s Commission on Sustainable Development, Ms. Voynet said that some countries, including France, are pushing for promotion of nuclear power as a renewable energy source. Ms. Voynet told Mr. Sevigny that, as a Green, she disagreed strongly with her government's claim that nuclear power, which has proven unsafe and generates dangerous materials difficult to dispose, is a renewable energy source.
Ms. Voynet worked out a compromise within the French government over her message, and reported instead that "some people think" nuclear energy is a viable alternative. She also expressed alarm that pro-nuclear forces are using the California "energy crisis" as an excuse to build more nuclear power plants in the U.S.
During the same visit to the United States, Voynet also addressed a U.S. Sustainable Energy Agency. Ms. Voynet plans to leave the French government in July to become more active in the French Green Party.
An invitation for Ralph Nader
Minister Voynet urged Ralph Nader to tour Europe this summer, accompanied by a contingent of American Greens. A visit from Mr. Nader, Ms. Voynet said, would be a huge boost for the Greens throughout Europe and win them major press attention. According to Ms. Voynet, Mr. Nader is highly regarded in France.
Global Greens Conference