Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Illegal Logging and the US

Newsnight on BBC 2 has obtained a leaked memo from the US State Department concerning the UK government's proposals to combat illegal logging. If you didn't see the programme you can read about it on the bbc.co.uk website.
US blocks forest protection plan
(I believe that you can also see the broadcast online till around 11pm tomorrow, 16th March.)

Given the current US administration's approach to environmental issues, this isn't much of a surprise. Even the fact that the "head of forest policy in the State Department, Stephanie Caswell, drafted a strategy in January to work with Canada to stop imposing restrictions on timber purchasing and to lobby Russia and Canada to vote against the scheme" isn't likely to surprise that many Europeans.

Mr Blair must be so happy to have such a good and loyal ally in the US. The State Department has said that this memo was a draft and that it doesn't represent US policy. I don't want to speak for Mr Blair but I suspect he might be thinking "Cut the spin George, you can't kid a kidder".

Illegal logging is clearly not a good thing and Mr Blair gets at least some credit from me for attempting to do something about it. The defra website says "Combating illegal logging requires timber producing and timber consuming countries to work together.... Ministers will discuss the best ways of doing this" under the headline International events - UK Presidency of the G8.
Perhaps defra should have said "Ministers, except for the US representative and any others they have managed to dissuade, will discuss the best ways of doing this."

This page on globalwitness.org has a quotation from Colin Powell which shows that some people in the US have realised just how serious a problem this is. The State Department never seemed to pay much attention to Powell when he was in charge there so I suppose it's unreasonable to assume that they'll pay any heed now.

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