Monday, October 1, 2007

Running out the clock on climate change

Sometimes you have to ask, "why bother?" Through much of this summer, the White House has put out the word that it is shifting policies and giving attention to climate issues. That now appears to be so much hot air.

Last Friday, President Bush spoke at a conference of major greenhouse gas producing nations that was convened by the White House. Many observers were looking for the President to fill out his earlier calls for a voluntary system of reductions--maybe something along the lines of what he did with electric utilities during his last years as Governor of Texas. Hopes may have been raised when the President began by saying "Energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time" and "The United States takes these challenges seriously." However, those hopes were subsequently dashed. The rest of the speech made clear that the President has no intention of making any serious efforts during his remaining time in office.

Instead, the President offered to participate in negotiations that would lead to a working set of "goals"--not programs or strategies mind you, but "goals"--by next summer. These, in turn, would lead to a global consensus on goals that could be adopted by 2009. Of course, that comes after the President leaves office and means that the tough choices will be left to his successor.

That's not leadership; it's running out the clock and passing the buck.