Recently, in Moscow, at the meeting of G8 Finance Ministers, the Europeans gave us a repeat performance of an all-too-familiar pattern: they appeased George Bush at the expense of the global environment.
At last year's Gleneagles summit of the G8 industrialized nations, the G8 leaders, led by the Europeans, invested considerable political capital to find common ground on climate change. While they failed to persuade George Bush to agree on what arrangements should take the place of the Kyoto Protocol, when it expires in 2012, they persuaded Bush to join in calling climate change a serious problem that warrants urgent action. More specifically, Bush reaffirmed the United States' commitment to a 1992 climate treaty (which, unlike Kyoto, the United States has ratified). That treaty requires industrialized nations to assist developing nations to grow cleanly, and Bush pledged at Gleneagles to do more to help poor nations obtain climate-friendly energy technologies. The Gleneagles consensus was at best a limited success, but the commitment to work with developing nations on clean energy seemed promising.