The European Union delegation at the UN talks in Bonn this week, the first of many this year aimed at producing a successor to the Kyoto protocol by late December, were forced to excuse the antics of the current holder of the EU presidency. The Czech republic has the revolving presidency but its president, Vaclav Klaus, has views on climate change way out of line with the official position.
Klaus is an outspoken global warming sceptic, given to denouncing climate change as an invention, a communist plot, a product of the “new religion” of environmentalism. His views are an embarrassment to the EU, which is trying to lead the rest of the world to an agreement on cutting greenhouse gases.
Pavel Zamyslicky of the Czech delegation visibly squirmed when asked in a press conference on Wednesday about his president’s views. “The President speaks of his views on the issue. We have no problems with the little bit of difference of opinion… The EU is absolutely clear on its position.” He looked relieved when the discussion moved on to the laboured intricacies of whether the UN negotiations would produce a brand new treaty, an amendment to the Kyoto protocol, or – for complicated and largely tedious reasons – some form of combination of the two.