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Bush announces bold inaction on climate change

As I noted in my April 15 post, http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/04/15/bush-hoist-by-own-petard-prepares-global-warming-initiative.aspx, President Bush has indeed just made a specific policy statement on climate change.

There is much in it to discuss – and disagree with – in what Pres. Bush had to say, but I think it’s fair to conclude that the speech was all talk and no action, and represents no act of leadership, at least with respect to domestic policy.  I’m not so sure that is anything to cheer about, regardless of one’s view of the science or whether the government ought to do anything about it, because, as I noted previously, in fact the Administration’s hand is being forced by court decisions.  Failure by Bush to propose a legislative agenda means we will end up not with a policy designed by the Administration or Congress, but with various uncoordinated ad hoc regulatory actions.  As a result, doing nothing is simply a surrender of responsibility.

So what does this speech do, other than in part to shift to Congress – the Congress that he held in check for seven years – the responsibility for regulatory actions that Bush clearly finds undesirable?   First, it appears that Bush is trying both to have his cake and eat it too at home, by conceding grudgingly that action is needed on climate change (if only to cope with a regulatory agenda that has forced on the Administration), but actually proposing no legislative agenda.  And on the international front, Bush appears to be trying to create some shred of credibility for upcoming talks later this week in Paris with Sarkosy and leaders of other major economies concerning progress under the “Bali Plan” climate agenda, which will be discussed at the G-8 summit in July.  It does seem clear that Bush is also insistent that China and India join any post-Kyoto plan (the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012), as a condition for any agreement by the US to take action, but whether his administration is actively making any efforts to persuade China or India is not so clear.

Interested readers should take a look, both at Bush’s speech, and at the Bali Plan:



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