A Wall Street Journal article today did a good job of placing the UN meeting and the White House summit in the broader in a global and domestic context. While the Bush administration “will offer a variety of diplomatic carrots” to encourage China, India, Brazil and other developing nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, writes John J. Fialka, “Congress is working on what amounts to a stick: an economic penalty that could be imposed on goods imported from developing nations if those nations don’t move to curb carbon dioxide and other related emissions by 2020.” Lawmakers are studying a variety of emissions bills that would mandate reductions, while also trying to reconcile Senate and House drafts of a new energy bill.
And in addition to Congress, Bush must contend with U.S. allies with shifting priorities. In its coverage of yesterday’s event, the Financial Times, like most U.K. newspapers, noted that British environment minister Hilary Benn singled out the U.S. for its lack of cooperation. “His words marked a change in tone for the U.K. in its approach towards the U.S. on environmental issues,” Fiona Harvey reported. “Tony Blair preferred to use his relationship with George W. Bush to press him privately to soften his stance on climate change.”
If London appeared to break with Washington, however, Ottawa moved closer. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters that his country would join the Asia Pacific Partnership, an emissions reduction pact created in 2005 that includes the U.S., China, India, Japan, Australia, and Korea. “Canada will join a small coalition of countries that have spurned calls for mandatory pollution-reduction targets to fight climate change despite producing more than half the world’s emissions,” reported The Toronto Star. Environmentalists have labeled the pact “anti-Kyoto.”
The good news is that a commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions appears robust and nearly universal. But at this point, it is unclear which approach-mandatory or voluntary targets-will prevail. Ban and his camp, which support the former, had the platform yesterday. On Thursday, Bush and his camp, which support the latter, will get their chance. One can only hope that the press will have some energy left to dissect the end of Climate Week as thoroughly as it has the beginning.