The new face of the European Union also happens to be the old face of global warming skepticism. Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic and, since January 1, the rotating president of the European Union, will give a keynote speech  at the second annual International Conference on Climate Change in New York.
The widely ridiculed skeptic gathering, which last year drew only a few hundred attendees  (and no actual climate scientists ), will address the “question” of whether global warming “was ever really a crisis,” according to its lead sponsor, The Heartland Institute .
By the way, if you’re at all interested in attending, the Heartland Institute will make it worth your while: a 20% discount on the $720 registration fee for signing the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s Global Warming Petition – or, as the Guardian’s Leo Hickman put it , “a $144 reward for agreeing to be a ‘free-thinking’ climate change denier.” If you need help to make up your mind, visit Frank Bi’s website  to see a nice introductory video.
Klaus, a longtime climate crank, is no stranger to these parts, having also attended the 2008 meeting. At the time, he told the AP that climate “is just a joke,” and that he was “afraid that global warming alarmists are trying to kill the freedom of people and prosperity.” And, in a 2007 column he wrote for the Financial Times , he compared “ambitious” environmentalism to communism, deeming the former the “biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity.”
In the same piece, he cited the work of such climate “luminaries” as Richard Lindzen and Michael Crichton as evidence that global warming was nothing more than an illicit sham perpetrated by “Malthusian pessimists,” irrational scientists and other Gore cronies.
His “hit” book, “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” (underwritten by – surprise, surprise – the Competitive Enterprise Institute), built upon these, shall we say, “misguided” views by making the case that existing mitigation policies were a “dangerous threat to freedom and prosperity around the world” and not justified by the science. “The theory of global warming and the hypothesis on its causes, which has spread around massively nowadays, may be a bad theory, it may also be a valueless theory, but in any case it is a very dangerous theory,” he concluded.
While he may very well be a perfectly capable head of state in all other respects (though even that is up for dispute ), having, after all, won re-election to a second term in 2008, the fact that he is an outspoken climate denier and noted Eurosceptic do not square well with his new role as EU President.
Given that the EU recently unveiled a new plan to curb greenhouse gas levels by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 and provide billions of dollars in aid to developing countries, Klaus hardly seems like the man to lead the EU – even if it is only a largely ceremonial position. Brokering the compromises with countries like China and India that will be needed to ensure the success of the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks could be made needlessly more difficult.
The other EU heads may not be able to displace him from his position, but I certainly hope they and other world leaders choose to ignore him when it comes to negotiating the next climate treaty.