That’s the headline. Crtics have been quick to reject this as a "do-nothing" strategy, pointing out that the U.S. has refused to sign on to Germany’s proposal to reduce emissions sufficient to hold warming to 2 degrees C, which may be necessary to avoid disaster.
They have a strong point. But if this is a do-nothing stance, at least it’s a new do-nothing stance, and one that does call for international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
When Vaclav Havel and other dissidents were battling the Soviet Union, he often pointed to laws on the books that gave individuals civil rights. He knew–everyone knew–that these laws weren’t enforced. But asking the powers that be to live up to their promises had a cumulative effect, like the proverbial water on a stone, as his subsequent popular takeover of the Czech Republic proved.
It’s too soon to dismiss this shift on the part of the Bush administration. Calling for action, even if it’s not enough, is not the same as saying action is unnecessary, or pointless, or will "wreck" the economy.
This is a new day, and a new speech. It’s mostly about technology–nuclear and the fabled "clean coal"–but still, given that Bush was a "dissident" on global warming not so long ago, it’s a step.