Hawaii climate conference ends, scant progress made
The U.S.-led climate talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, ended yesterday without much fanfare and without much progress achieved. By most accounts, it was a closed-door, bureaucratic nothing-fest wherein delegates from the 17 biggest-polluting countries spoke about the need to act, but no one actually did. The United States finally agreed to take part in forming climate-change plans with the rest of the world by 2009, but that concession came only after the intransigent host country’s repeated objections, eventually eliciting loud boos from many of the delegates. Also, if past experience is any indicator, U.S. participation rarely translates into anything but interference in climate negotiations. Nonetheless, many Hawaii invitees seemed willing to concede what seemed to be the whole point of the meeting — that the U.S., by simply holding the conference, is making some progress on its attitude toward climate change. Jim Connaughton, the top White House environment official, summed it up nicely, saying, “We like to prepare, plan, and announce. This is what the president has done consistently since 2001; as you can see, it’s gaining increasing appreciation.” Indeed, they do have the announcement part down. What more could the world want?