Uh oh, this doesn’t sound good.

The Bush administration, whose pro-business policies on climate change have long rankled environmentalists and U.N. delegates, has done it again. The United States is pressing to scrap a proposal to have world leaders gathering in New York next month express “respect for nature.”

Eh, pardonne moi?

That phrase was included in a draft statement of principles to be agreed to by 175 heads of state and government attending a Sept. 14 United Nations summit on poverty and U.N. reform. The statement invited leaders to embrace a set of “core values” that unite the international community, including respect for human rights, freedom, equality, tolerance, multilateralism and respect for nature.

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Is there some confusion in the Washington Post offices? Is this some kind of treaty? Mandated CO2 emissions cuts? Banning of toxic chemicals? Compensating poor nations for the effects of climate change?

The offending phrase would place no fresh legal or financial burdens on U.S. taxpayers…


…but the Bush administration voiced concern that it would distract attention from the main goal: reforming the United Nations.

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Um, wait, so, 175 nations are gathering in New York to work on U.N. reform. To start off, they want to affirm their shared principles. Bush is okay with this. Human rights? Sure. Equality? Yup. Multilateralism? Ah, what the hell.

Respect for nature, though? C’mon. Let’s not go off the rails!

Ric Grenell of the U.S. mission to the United Nations said the phrase “is too broad a subject, and if we had to define the multiple ways the U.S. government respects nature, the document would be too long and way off its original intent.”

Oh, gosh, the ways we respect nature … don’t get us started!

No, really. Don’t. We mean it.

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