As the world's favourite eco-bogeyman declares himself the saviour of the planet, Gareth Kane asks if we can take the new Green George Bush seriously.
In a speech last Friday that must have sent all green-thinking people into paroxysms of rage, US President George Bush gave the world an elementary explanation of the science of global warming. Speaking to the assembled representatives of the 16 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, he refused mandatory limits and put his faith in technology to deliver targets.
Now it would be easy for me to launch into a withering critique of the POUSA, accusing him of rank hypocrisy and gall, but there are a few things to take into consider. When Bush speaks, he's never speaking to the global environmentally literate citizen, or to other world leaders. Rather he's talking to a particular section of the American electorate and he knows what they like to hear. They want him to keep it simple, sound as if he is in control, and reassure them it won't hit them in the pocket. Of course he also has to cover his backside after 15 years of US denial and make it sound as if the science of climate change has only just come to maturity, but I suspect this is a secondary consideration.
Another point in Bush's defence is that the USA is pledging to do something - even if he refuses to sign up to binding targets. In the UK we like to think we're morally superior to our cousins across the pond because we signed up to the Kyoto protocol, yet our carbon emissions have risen - so big deal. Personally I believe that an internationally binding set of targets based on contraction and convergence would deliver the best solution, but I have little faith in international politics to deliver an agreement that hasn't been unacceptable diluted by the need to keep everyone happy. So, I ask myself, are non-binding targets so much worse than 'binding' targets that don't work?
Blimey. I've almost written a defence of George Bush and his attitude to climate change. So I'd better attack him for his weasel words, his naive reliance on technology (has that not got us into this mess in the first place?) and the lack of any firm policies in his speech. But I can't help thinking that the world's most powerful nation edging in the right direction is better than it galloping the opposite way.
Until next time,