Clinton on Kyoto: “It’s a very good thing to fail in the right cause.”

Since President Clinton’s press conference today was not webcast, I thought I would blog on that.

There’s so many good talks that I am behind on my CGI blogging, yes, and I will catch up, but I hope that you have been tuning in to the webcast — Clinton said today that 400,000 people were (up from 50,000 last year).

Clinton remains a genuine polymath (unlike Greenspan) — without notes, he gave a 7-minute history of the human race and civilization — starting 150,000 years ago in the Olduvai Gorge through today (which takes us from 1 human to 6.5 billion) through 2050 (which adds another 2.5 billion in the blink of an eye) — to give some idea of the scale and speed of the transformation taking place on this planet.

He was asked about the Kyoto Protocol, and replied “we should all be personally impatient about climate change.” But we must remember “most ideas aren’t adopted when they are first proposed.” Then he said the quote that I used in the headline, adding that such failure “keeps people stumbling in the right direction.”


On sustainable development in the Third World, he repeated the point he tried to get Robert Zoellick to understand yesterday, “We are not asking you to change your economic growth rate, we’re asking you to change the way you grow.”

He had a lot to say on a carbon trading system versus a carbon tax:

We wanted a carbon market [from Kyoto]. Now more and more economists think a carbon tax is best. In theory that is right. It is hard to devise a carbon market that is hard to evade or game. But the green market is under organized and undercapitalized, and I still favor a carbon market to incentivize green technologies.”

He was asked why he does the Clinton Global Initiative. He said they were three reasons:

  1. “I spend my life trying to give back in return for the great life I’ve had.”
  2. He still cares about these issues and wants to have an impact.
  3. “I like it. I enjoy it.” He can’t think of a better way to spend his time