Op-ed on Kyoto

May 26th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

I am trying to place an op-ed on Russia’s pseudo-decision to participate in the Kyoto Protocol process. If I don’t place it soon I’ll post it here next week. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt:

“In Russia’s decision to participate in the Kyoto process, and the political calculus behind its decision, lies a critical lesson for the Bush Administration. Consider this fact: if President Bush in 2001 had, instead of pulling out of the Kyoto process, simply committed the United States to participate and then did nothing else differently since that time, then the United States would be closer to meeting its Kyoto targets than Ireland, Spain, Austria, Portugal, and about even with Denmark.

In a May 11 speech to a climate change conference in Brussels, Harlan L. Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator in the State Department underscored the U.S. commitment to reducing the growth of emissions and to international collaboration, but expressed concern that the U.S. commitment had been misunderstood. Rather than being seen by the international community as a pariah, by committing to participate in the Kyoto process the U.S. might be able negotiate, as Russia so effectively has, for other outcomes it desires in the international arena. Ironically, expressing support for the Kyoto process but not taking dramatic action to implement it is the exact climate policy pursued by the Administration of Bill Clinton whose approach to climate change is substantively very similar to the approach of the Bush Administration. But the two administration’s approaches to climate politics could not be more different.

Of course, success in politics does not necessarily mean good policy will result. The challenge of climate will be with us for the foreseeable future no matter what happens with the Kyoto Protocol…”

For any opinion page editors with an interest in the whole, riveting piece, I’ll part with it cheap: pielke@colorado.edu.

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