If you go by the news coverage, President Bush all but killed the 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty, although all the good green-friendly people on Earth really, really wanted the treaty to become law. The final blow came when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced that Japan would not go ahead with Kyoto if the United States did not.
In mid-June, Mr. Koizumi attacked the Bush administration’s opposition to Kyoto as “truly deplorable.” But at Camp David, Mr. Koizumi said he plans to cooperate with Mr. Bush’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions independent of the pact.
The good green-friendly people were suitably disappointed. “Maybe he was overcome by the friendly embrace of Bush,” Edward J. Lincoln, a Japan specialist with the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post.
The picture was complete another Good Greenie who wanted to do right, tragically corrupted by the evil but charming (for a nincompoop) Bush. But let’s note:
Japan has not ratified Kyoto.
The treaty requires that Japan reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 6 percent less than 1990 levels by 2012.
As of 1997, Japan’s greenhouse-gas emissions had increased to 9.7 percent more than 1990 levels.
“So, they weren’t going to meet it anyway,”Mr. Lincoln said yesterday. “That’s not the issue. It would be real easy to get to the end of the road and say, ‘None of us made it.’ But that’s different from shooting it down from the outset.”
See Mr. Bush’s real crime: Instead of cooing over goals he knew would never be met, Mr. Bush said what every savvy diplomat knows: Kyoto is a sham.
So now, when Mr. Bush speaks the truth, he’s the odd man out if you believe what you read in the papers.
“The Canadians were whispering this. The Australians were whispering this,” noted Frank Maisano of the anti-Kyoto Global Climate Coalition. Mr. Bush simply had the brass to say it out loud.
To speak the truth is to damn Kyoto.
His real sin: Mr. Bush should be more of a Lip-Service Enviro. The Clinton administration praised Kyoto then ignored it. Clintonia also oversaw the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions in 1998 to 11.2 percent over 1990 levels when they were supposed to be 7 percent lower than 1990. But Mr. Clinton spoke nice about Kyoto. He said he wanted to reduce emissions. Case closed.
True, Mr. Clinton allowed Vice President Al Gore to negotiate a treaty that exempted developing nations from emissions goals even though the Senate had voted 95-to-0 against any pact that did so. At least Mr. Clinton didn’t rush for ratification. To ask the Senate to ratify Kyoto would be to invite the Senate to bury it.
Despite the rise in U.S. gases, Mr. Clinton didn’t get rapped as anti-environment. He was in tune with the citizenry: He talked big, and did what he wanted. A Time-CNN poll in April found that three-fourths of Americans say they believe global warming is a serious problem. The most recent New York Times/CBS poll shows 46 percent of Americans disagreeing with Mr. Bush on the environment, and 39 percent approving.
Yet, somehow an American public, which expects the Statue of Liberty to wind up shoulder-deep in melting polar ice cap, has allowed greenhouse-gas emissions to rise and is driving SUVs on the highways. Go figure why the song says, “It’s not easy being green.” It’s so easy that all Mr. Bush would have to do to seem green is to act the hypocrite.
Debra J. Saunders is a nationally syndicated columnist.