NRDC Calls on President Bush to Fulfill His Father's Promises at Rio

U.S. NGO Blasts Bush for Failing to Provide Leadership

JOHANNESBURG (August 30, 2002) -- A major U.S. environmental organization today re-released the text of President George H.W. Bush Sr.'s speech at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and called on his son to fulfill his father's promises.

"At Rio, George Bush Sr. eloquently spoke of providing a sustainable legacy for his children; his son is more worried about the energy industry's quarterly earnings than the long-term health of the planet," said John Adams, president of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), a 500,000-member, New York City-based organization he co-founded in 1970. "George Bush Sr. called for engagement and stewardship; his son calls for unilateral action and snubs international agreements and summits. George Bush Sr. called for 'forceful action' to protect the environment; his son calls for rolling back the progress made over the last 30 years." (See NRDC's regularly updated webpage, The Bush Record.)

On June 12, 1992, George Bush Sr. told a packed assembly hall that he had just signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change -- which led to the Kyoto Protocol five years later -- and called for "translating the words spoken here into concrete action to protect the planet."

"We believe the road to Rio must point toward both environmental protection and economic growth, environment and development," Bush said. "And by now it's clear, to sustain development, we must protect the environment; and to protect the environment, we must sustain development."

A decade later, George Bush Sr.'s promise remains largely unfulfilled. "At the Rio Summit, the United States -- which emits 25 percent of the world's global warming pollution -- agreed to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2000," said Jacob Scherr, director of NRDC's International Program. "Instead, U.S. global warming pollution has jumped 16 percent.

"Since Rio, there has been mounting scientific evidence that we are putting extraordinary pressure on our atmosphere, oceans, forests and other resources," Scherr added. "It's impossible to ignore the likelihood that we will leave our children a degraded, polluted planet."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related Documents
Remarks by President George H.W. Bush, June 12, 1992 in PDF format, 118k.

Related NRDC Pages
NRDC on the U.N. summit