Does the Democrats control of the US Congress mean there is fresh hope for the Kyoto Protocol? New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a supporter of Kyoto, and while a policy change on Iraq will take months if not years to implement, Kyoto is the ideal message to send to the electorate. It’s also the type of contentious policy that is best dispatched as far away from 2008 as possible.

However, there are two reasons why the Democrats may not act on climate change. Some fairly centrist pseudo-Republican “Blue Dog” Democrats have helped swing the balance. Among them, the two men slated to take over key environmental committees, John Dingell and Nick Rahal have links to the auto and coal industries.

Secondly, Democrats, in their desire to avoid over-reaching, may wish to reassure business leaders and constituents of their economic credentials, and climate change is never going to be revenue neutral.

But what better way to decorate Bush’s ineptitude than to ratify Kyoto? If so, John Howard has until the Democrats take control next year to sell the benefits of his alternative climate change protocol over the original Kyoto agreement. But both Howard and Costello, who see themselves as trying to hose down hysteria, are being criticised for dragging their feet.

Historically, hubris has been the hope of oppositions and the stumbling block of successful politicians. Adaptation is what separates humankind from animals but it’s a human prerogative to ignore the signals.

This story also appears on Nahum’s website.

Peter Fray

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