There are many ways to stop a deal. A common method is to negotiate indefinitely until the point is reached where the measures become impossible to implement.
That was the point they were about to reach; the 167 countries that for four years have negotiated how to implement the Kyoto agreement.
As long as everyone was discussing what to do with the greenhouse gases, there was no room for unilateral, radical measures at the national level. The governments could say that they did their best, but that the debate was difficult and that there was no way. The polluting industry could mumble sweet words about how important it was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that they were bound on their hands and feet as long as governments didn't agree. And the environmental activists could sit on the fence and wait; sure that their case was in some way promoted but without the implementation of the agreement came any closer for that reason.
This was the situation until President George W. Bush put into words the practice followed by all industrialized countries: to increase emissions from year to year as a necessary consequence of the growth the world was experiencing. The Kyoto agreement was in every practical sense the word dead, and the only thing left was years of tug-of-war over mechanisms and quota sales, burden-sharing and slick evasive maneuvers – such as the fact that Norwegian gas-fired power plants are a advantage for the environment.
Ultimately, one would end up with an agreement far from the real goal, which in turn would have to be ratified by all the national parliaments of the states before it came into force. This is how it can still go. But if there is one thing George W. Bush has actually done, it is to increase the pressure on the world's top leaders so that they may – but only perhaps – want to do something concrete.
Take the environmental movement as an example. The US president's clear speech – he did not understand that there should be no loud talk about what everyone thought – made it embarrassingly clear that the Kyoto agreement and emission reductions could not be left to politicians and their empty conferences. Therefore, they set off on their own.
In the UK, this has been reflected in the fact that a number of celebrities have spearheaded a boycott of Exxon Mobil – which gave over a million dollars to Bush in campaign support and who was wholeheartedly behind the president's decision to withdraw the United States from the Kyoto Protocol .
Exxon Mobil is one of the main pillars behind the research that questions the seriousness of climate change, and the connection between these and emissions caused by fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal.) In other words; Exxon Mobil has in all years tried to create doubts about whether climate change is due to human activity, and has also sought to prove that these changes are not as serious as most other researchers claim.
In Europe, Exxon Mobil's petrol stations go by the name Esso, and in the UK it is precisely this chain that is now subject to a boycott – at the request of Bianca Jagger and Annie Lennox and with a strong impact on the entire environmental movement there.
Exactly how this boycott will turn out is currently uncertain. But recently this campaign also spread to France, and Shell and BP-Amoco – who have the fate of the joint company Monsanto fresh in their minds – / p>
has now turned its back on the five-year-old and withdrew from the oil lobby that has long set foot on all Kyoto agreements and the like – and which just led to the oilman Bush withdrawing from the negotiations.
Nobody knows what this will lead to changes in the US administration's view of the Kyoto agreement. But as early as last month, before Democrats gained a majority in the Senate, Bush commissioned a report from eleven U.S. climate scientists who concluded that climate change both are man-made and very serious. It has caused the administration to falter, and the world to start speculating on whether the United States will give other and more positive signals during the environmental meeting in Bonn on 16 July.
Bush takes international criticism and threats of boycott so seriously that he has put his security adviser (!) Condoleezza Rice on the case. Last week, she slammed Europe and Japan, claiming that no other country in the world has such a top-heavy committee of experts trying to find a solution to the climate problem.
Europe and Japan, for their part, have reacted so strongly to America's anti-Kyoto stance that they are now victims of their own harsh rhetoric. Their statements have been so sharp that a globalized and activist environmental movement expects something more than what they have received so far.
This does not mean that the Kyoto agreement will be in place in a short time. Rather, it will mean that the other partners must sit down with the United States in order to create a framework that both great powers, smaller powers, Greenpeace and the rest of the world can accept.
For the United States, it is about getting their point across. Bush wants the discussion on how countries such as Mexico, India and China can contribute, and will have complicated credit systems in place where tree planting is included as a deduction for exhausted emission quotas. Something the rich countries are interested in, and the developing countries must accept, because otherwise the United States will not participate.
But the fundamental problem with the Kyoto agreement is not solved by formal agreement on mechanisms and formulations. The fundamental problem is that industrialized states will lack energy in the years to come, as the United States is already experiencing an energy crisis in California, while large countries undergoing industrialization will need more and more – and even more.
Perhaps, as a result of Bush's provocations, they will be able to salvage the Kyoto agreement. Maybe you can not do it. It does not matter anyway, because such an agreement – with one or the other goal – will not have any significance for the environment and / or the world's emissions as a whole. George W. Bush is right about one thing; that growth will always be more important than the environment, everywhere and for all people in all countries – including those who write and those who read this. The only difference between Bush and everyone else is that the American president chose to say out loud what others just think – and act in relation to.
And it was – in that sense – liberating speech.