London – At least that’s how they’re covering it outside the United States. Similar to how it was reported on British TV last night, The Toronto Star, in an article titled “U.S. backs down after needling” reports the game-changer at the UN climate conference was the remarks of the delegate from Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad:
“We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way.”
Oh, snap! as Jon Stewart would put it were he not silenced by the writer’s strike. What happened next?
The conference exploded with applause, the U.S. delegation backed down, and the way was cleared yesterday for adoption of the “Bali road map” after a dramatic half-hour that set the stage for a grinding two years of climate talks to come.
Since no hard, near-term targets were agreed to, I’d still call the conference an utter failure, by any reasonable standard, given how urgent the climate problem is. But compared to expectations — and the painful reality of the richest, most polluting nation on the world working full-time to block everyone else from moving forward — it was a partial success. The world will continue to work together to develop a roadmap to a post-Kyoto agreement.
The utter disdain that the rest of the world holds our President, if not clear from the ovation for tiny Papua New Guinea’s smackdown, drips from the lead editorial in today’s The Independent, titled “The world gets the better of Bush,” which drops any pretense of British stiff upper lip:
Last week was the week, and yesterday was the day, when the world finally showed that it was terminally fed up with the simple-minded, short-sighted and self-serving outlook of George Bush. The moment came not, as it well might have done, amid the dust and bloody debris of Iraq or the torture and state terrorism of Guantanamo Bay, but in Indonesia’s lush and lovely Island of the Gods. And, appropriately, it came over climate change — the issue on which the “toxic Texan” first showed that he was going to put his ideological instincts and oil-soaked obstinacy over the interests of the rest of the world and of future generations.
Double snap! The rest of the editorial is worth reprinting, because it puts what Papua New Guinea did in diplomatic context, it has insight into Tony Blair’s failure, and it has implications for our Presidential election: