The London Telegraph headlines the agreement of George Bush to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions as part of a global effort. They hail his “dramatic” shift on the issue of global warming. Did Bush change American policy — or did he change the ground conditions for the climate-change debate? At Heading Right, I explain that the only dramatic change came from the rest of the G-8 nations. They decided to stop short of economic suicide, and Bush pulled the gun away from their temples.
UPDATE: Kimberly Strassel at The Wall Street Journal agrees (h/t: CQ commenter onlineanalyst):
Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets. There’s rampant cheating, and endless stories of how select players are self-enriching off the government “market” in C02 credits. Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president’s oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.
Europeans may be slow, but they aren’t silly, and they’ve quietly come around to some of Mr. Bush’s views. Tony Blair has been a leader here, and give him credit for caring enough about his signature issue to evolve. He began picking up Mr. Bush’s pro-tech themes years ago, as it became clear just how much damage a Kyoto would do to his country’s competitiveness. By the end of 2005, he admitted at a conference in New York that Kyoto was a problem. “I would say probably I’m changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years,” he said. “The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem.” He doubted there would be successor to Kyoto, which expires in 2012, and said an alternative might be “incentives” for businesses. Mr. Bush couldn’t have said it better.
The other big difference is the inclusion of India and China in the parameters of the deal. That also came straight from Bush, who held fast on that demand — a bipartisan demand from Congress.