Religious leaders in Europe and the United States have expressed deep concern about the U.S. government's decision last week not to implement the Kyoto Protocol, which is intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The protocol was negotiated at an international meeting in Japan, in 1997.

Europe's leading ecumenical organization, the Conference of European Churches (CEC), has sharply criticized the Bush administration's decision, and has urged the European Union to make "a strong response." At the same time, six senior Christian and Jewish leaders in the U.S. have written to President George W. Bush requesting a meeting with him about his environmental policy, "especially around issues of climate change." Their letter does not directly criticize the U.S. government but is clearly an expression of their concern.

Keith Jenkins, director of CEC's Church and Society Commission has written to Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister, Lena Hjelm-Wallen about the U.S. decision. Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union (EU), and Hjelm-Wallen is responsible for coordinating the Swedish government's role as the head of the Council of Ministers of the EU.

Jenkins' letter states that the U.S. decision "puts the narrowest national interest before global responsibility." He calls on "the European Union and its member states [to] condemn the short-sighted approach of the U.S. government, reaffirm their common commitment to the aims of the Kyoto Treaty, maintain their own commitment to reducing emissions and take every step possible to convince the U.S. government that it is in the long-term interests of all, including the people of the U.S., to control emissions before they do irreparable damage to the earth."

Jenkins reminds Hjelm-Wallen ...

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