Bush Fails to Offer Alternatives to Kyoto
Mr. Bush's communications on US strategy regarding global warming are taking on the tradition and style of the cold war: "Tell them anything, but don't tell them anything". This is unfortunate, because it only contributes to the growing distrust Americans feel toward Mr. Bush and his administration.
On July 13, before his departure for Europe, the White House issued a "Statement by the President on Climate Change Policy". Back in March, Mr. Bush shocked us -- and the world -- by suddenly rejecting the agreed on blueprint for global action to deal with the threat of global warming, the Kyoto Protocol. This one impulsive act separated the US from the world community. At that time Mr. Bush promised to come up with an alternative plan.
Last Monday, July 16, the COP-6, the latest international forum where global warming is discussed, met in Bonn, Germany, to negotiate the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. In attendance were senior, policy-level representatives from 178 countries, including the US.
The world this week has been waiting to hear from Mr. Bush a new US policy initiative on global warming. But Bush's statement contained nothing of the kind. It was big on words like "fundamental principles", "science-based" "encourage research breakthroughs", "leverage resources", "partnerships" and the like -- in other words, just empty spin. As to the policy issue at hand, Mr. Bush's statement contained nothing: instead it gave support for more research and technology, and announced a couple of inconsequential projects. The words 'Kyoto Protocol' were not mentioned. If he was buying time, it seems he would have been so much better off if he just said so.
By not engaging in anything like an honest response to what is clearly on everybody's mind, and -- to add insult to injury -- by putting forward this lame list of inane "actions" instead, Bush's statement continues the cold war tradition of extreme White House alienation and hostility, and of adding misinformation the likes of which we have not seen since the Viet Nam years and Watergate.
At the heart of current policy concerns regarding global warming are these questions: Can the Kyoto Protocol survive a US rejection? What will the Bush Administration propose as a global strategy? Is a compromise possible?
Unfortunately, once again Mr. Bush acted impulsively, without careful preparation. And he has yet to offer answers.