The official communique of the G8 leaders on global warming represents a significant victory for President Bush. There are no targets or timetables, no ominous declarations of immediate global catastrophe, and no calls to reduce world energy consumption. Instead, the statement recognizes that the threat is long-term and stresses the need for adaptation to deal with the challenges. Moreover, there is recognition that the world actually needs to increase power consumption to help the 2 billion people who have little or no access to energy. In effect, the G8 has adopted the American position on global warming as the consensus position (even the language about science comes straight from Administration documents). This statement relegates global warming to its proper place in world affairs – one to keep an eye on, and work to mitigate with appropriate, low-cost strategies, but not an immediate priority.
It also means that the Kyoto treaty, mentioned almost as an afterthought, is effectively dead, yesterday’s solution to yesterday’s conception of tomorrow’s problem. The Europeans are still bound by it, however, and unless they have the courage to admit that it is the wrong course, they will continue to struggle with it until it collapses as a result of its own contradictions.
Tony Blair’s role in securing the President’s victory should also be acknowledged. Although his instincts are those of the left, he can see the right path, in his own Gladstonian way, when someone is courageous enough to put the case forcefully, as the President has done. Without his efforts, I’m not sure this victory would have been as complete as it has been.