The United States has joined Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea in a climate change pact known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. The partnership is seen as an alternative to the Kyoto protocol, the pledge by most developed nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2012.
The agreement typifies the Bush administration's "no gain, no pain" philosophy when it comes to combating climate change, since George W. Bush would sooner host a Phish reunion concert on the grounds of his Crawford, Texas, ranch than impose any sort of restrictions on the fossil fuel industry. Rather than meet specific targets for conserving energy or reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, the six nations will invest money in clean energy technologies. That's all well and good, but as Salon has reported, Americans should be wary of environmental policies that sink money into long-term technological developments that may never be implemented while in the near term allowing pollution to go unchecked.
The new accord is right in line with the administration's "post-Kyoto" ethos. The president has stated that Kyoto would have "wrecked" the American economy while allowing developing nations such as China and India, which were not required to restrict emissions under Kyoto, to pollute at will while growing their economies. Any deal that fosters better relationships and understanding with China and India can't be all bad, but don't expect much tangible progress to come out of this agreement.
It's funny how the president's optimism about America goes right out the window when there is any talk of increased production costs for American businesses, many of which are bloated by the insanely inflated compensation paid to their CEOs and top executives, some of whom, like Bushs friend Ken Lay, refuse to be held accountable for what happens under their leadership. Eventually the president will have to understand that tackling climate change cannot be painless.