Comprendre Copenhague : les Etats-Unis contre le reste du monde

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position USA etats unis echec negociation climat kyoto

The USA is the world’s biggest polluter and it never ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Even if Al Gore signed the text in 1998 when he was vice-president, the protocol was not even presented to the American Senate. Indeed, in July 1997, it made it known through a unanimous vote that it would refuse to sign.

During the next decade, the American government became one of the main obstacles to the international climate negotiations, especially when George W. Bush was president. The Republican administration which was very influenced by “sceptic” lobbies denied the reality of climate change and put pressure on scientists who did not agree with them.

The representatives of the two big parties were worried that measures against global warming would hinder the country’s prosperity. George Bush Snr. thus declared, “The American way of life is non-negotiable”. The point was evoked in the 1997 Senate resolution. The text mentioned a second point that remains at the heart of the American argument: the USA will refuse to take steps if other countries are not also forced to do so – especially in big emergent countries that are starting to compete with them (China, India, Brazil, etc)

Despite the delay that occurred on a federal level during the Bush years, many initiatives have emerged in the decentralised country. Some states, like California have decided to adhere to the Kyoto objectives. Over 900 American cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and many communities and institutions have done the same thing.

Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was a turning point in the American federal policy on climate. The new president announced that he wanted to make climate change one of his priorities. However, it is hard to anticipate how far he is willing to go and how far the American deputies and senators will let him go.



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