i don't know who this cowboy is, but i strongly suspect he hasn't really thought the whole climate/planet/future thing through...."kyoto? heck; that's not even in america!"
The best that can be said of the recently concluded meeting on climate change in
At least the Americans' shameful foot-dragging did not bring the entire process to a complete halt, and for this the other industrialized countries, chiefly
For its part, the Bush administration deserves only censure. No one expected a miraculous conversion. But given the steadily mounting evidence of the present and potential consequences of climate change - disappearing glaciers, melting Arctic ice caps, dying coral reefs, threatened coastlines, increasingly violent hurricanes - one would surely have expected America's negotiators to arrive in Montreal willing to discuss alternatives.
They did not. Instead, the principal negotiators, Paula Dobriansky and Harlan Watson, continued to tout the benefits of an approach that combines voluntary reductions by individual companies with further research into "breakthrough" technologies.
That will not work. While a few companies may decide to proceed on their own, the private sector as a whole will neither create new technologies nor broadly deploy them unless all countries are required to do their share under a regime that combines agreed-upon targets with strong financial incentives for reaching them. To believe that companies will spend heavily to reduce emissions while their competitors are not doing the same is to believe in the tooth fairy.
The Europeans are finding solace in the fact that the Americans - after much kicking and screaming, and after public rebukes by Canada's prime minister and a surprise visitor named Bill Clinton - finally agreed to join informal "nonbinding" discussions that will try to entice developing countries like China and India into the process. It's certainly true that without the developing nations on board, any effort to keep greenhouses gases at manageable levels will be for naught.
But talk is cheap, and nonbinding talk is even cheaper. And talk alone will not get the developing world into the game. Why should