In just two months time (July 7-9) there will be a G8-summit in Hokkaido under the Japanese chairmanship. A month earlier there will be a preparatory meeting on energy. The chairing country have made their homework thoroughly and it looks all set for a decisive step in preparation for the post-Kyoto agreement. But still it could be more productive to hesitate and even to postpone the decisions!
The reason is the (not so) United States.
President Bush addressed the climate issues only last week in a statement that was a master-piece of empty rhetoric and were the only informative part was that the US should slow down emissions to a peak at 2025! When most other industrialised countries have at least plans for a substantial reduction by 2020. Small wonder that the German minister for environment called it a “Neanderthal speech”. He even went on and said that the US attitude is that of a “losership” not a leadership! If this US attitude should direct the decisions made in the Hokkaido summit there is not much hope for real actions.
Mr Bush in his speech referred to his French counterpart Sarkozy as “his friend”. That might be the case, but also president Sarkozy has in a laconic statement dismissed the US move and asked that they should take on real targets of reduction.
But then of course we still do not know what the next US administration think and we can hardly find out before November. John McCain does not seem to have much in the bag either. On the contrary, his motion to have a summer rebate on petrol in the US does not seem to reveal that he know or care about what is at stake for the climate.
On the other political side in the US the Clinton-Obama race is on. True that they have both shown much more consideration for climate and global issues, but how much of that will hold in a fierce campaign when (quite naturally) most debate will focus on individual “wallet-issues”? Basically the US is not so united but which route it will take after the elections is just not known. Would it not be better for the G8-summit to gamble for a more favourable political climate (!) six months later and play for a temporary deal in July?Author : Hans Nilsson