Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz, presents his ideas on building consensus for climate change negotiation. They are based largely on the tremendously successful negotiations to cut chlorofluorocarbon emissions, resulting in recovery of the ozone layer.
The preconditions for smart, tough US action on climate change have long been present. Political considerations–meaning self-interested calculations by political actors–have forestalled action on all sides.
Mr. Shultz wisely reminds us of the difference a president can make. A problem is that President Bush publicly committed in his 2000 campaign to offer an alternative to Kyoto, but never delivered. Now, with public opinion more favorably disposed toward action, his credibility is diminished.
Mr. Shultz would finesse this by his observation that Kyoto is due for renegotiation in any event. Surely, with conservative governments in France and Germany pressing for action on climate change, and disposed toward market tools, the time is propitious.
Would this be an area where American leadership could best be exerted by enabling the leading nations of the EU to show the way?
Mr. Shultz’s article seems to hint that climate change negotiations could be an area of opportunity for Condoleeza Rice, as she searches for ways to make a significant contribution in her concluding months in office.
Surely Mr. Shultz is right on this. Though it’s very late in the day for this administration, they conceivably could set the terms of debate that would influence their successors. That would not be an insignifcant contribution.
George Shultz | Climate Change Consensus