From Bill Clinton to Joe Biden, America’s climate story is one of dizzying change


Weather, global warming and climate change, according to NASA


“Some people say there is a God; others say there is no God; the truth probably lies somewhere in between”
– W. B. Yeats

Enough time has elapsed since Joe Biden’s April 22 climate summit for a dispassionate assessment of what it all meant.

In two words: Faith. Hope.

There’s quite a lot of the latter and not enough of the first.

The world hopes the United States, the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will stay the course on climate change action.

But, the world has little faith that the US will stay onside.

It’s not hard to understand why.

From Bill Clinton through to Joe Biden, America’s climate change story has been one of dizzying change.

In 1993, Mr Clinton committed the US to lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000 through his biodiversity treaty. In 2001, George W. Bush, Amercia’s next president, announced the US would not implement the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and expressed concern about its effect on the economy and energy prices. Barack Obama’s presidency had a Climate Action Plan for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and the US also helped push through the 2015 Paris climate agreement. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris deal and rolled back every possible environmental regulation. And now comes President Biden with his oft-repeated promise that “America is back”.

It is back, that much is true. But for how long? That’s what the world wonders.

For faith to match the hope quotient on America’s intentions, the world needs to see the US pass its first climate law.