The Bush Administration and Climate Change: Prospects for an Effective Policy Response

Maurie J. Cohen, Anne Egelston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Soon after taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush renounced the Kyoto Protocol and withdrew the USA from participation. While this decision did not ultimately break the treaty as many observers had anticipated, the lack of US engagement has profoundly impaired its effectiveness to mitigate the risks of human-induced climate change. In justifying its position, the Bush administration has regularly identified three flaws in the current multilateral accord: failure to include both developed and developing countries; insufficient grounding in science and technology; and inadequate protection against domestic economic harm. This study interrogates each of these objections to ascertain whether it might be conceptually possible to formulate a treaty that the Bush administration could endorse. The analysis finds that the most significant obstacle to US participation in an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions is the increasingly oppositional relationship between the USA and China. President Bush is reluctant to grant a unilateral concession to China as required under the current formulation of the Kyoto Protocol and this problem is unlikely to diminish with the ascendancy of a new administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-331
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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