As the environment continues to be a pressing issue on our nation’s agenda, there has been increasing debate as to how this issue should be addressed. Liberals continue to push for drastic domestic environmental policy change, while conservatives aim to balance environmental policy with its negative effects on industry, and are more hesitant to institute sweeping reform at home. The Bush administration has been blasted by many on the left for its seemingly lackadaisical approach to environmental reform, and has often been accused of favoring its ties to industry over the implementation of environmental policy. However, those who are unsupportive of Bush’s policy proposals must look at his reasoning when judging his actions.
For an effective environmental policy, the United States should use its international influence to bring about change in all nations of the world. Unilateral change within the United States does not solve the overall problems of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. While it could be argued that the United States is the largest producer of greenhouse gases, which would make it more important for our nation to reduce emissions, we could achieve better results if we were to use our political standing on an international level to bring about collective change.
This can be seen in the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, one of the most controversial moves by the Bush administration. The Kyoto Protocol exemplifies this failure to collectively bring about environmental change. The treaty would only have required specific countries to reduce their emissions, leaving out developing nations such as China and India. For the United States, it is important that a developing nation such as China, which is experiencing immense growth, be dealt the same economic drawbacks that the protocol would impose on already developed nations, in order to maintain an equal playing field in trade. China’s exemption would grant them an unfair economic advantage, and would weaken the American economy should we have chosen to ratify the protocol. It is unfair to expect President Bush to endorse and adopt a policy that would so obviously weaken our nation’s market. The relative economic effects of enacting such a policy while other rapidly developing nations possess an advantage would be highly damaging for our country.
It is unreasonable to expect our president to compromise our nation’s economic position that it has worked so hard to attain. Expecting huge environmental reform, when other large, polluting powers refuse to do so as well is foolish for American industry. Industry is a vital component that helps to make our nation the great place that it is. Instead of narrowing our focus to only domestic policy, we should look to reform on an international level that imposes the same regulations for all nations of the world, regardless of their developmental level.
The United States needs to work with its allies to negotiate with countries like China and India that refuse to implement environmental reform. Recently, President Bush called for a meeting of the 15 most influential nations on the planet to discuss and establish an environmental policy that can effectively be implemented by the end of 2008. Policy should continue to move in this direction in order to ensure an equal economic playing field for all nations. We should continue to support the president’s efforts to push for global change, so that all nations will incur the negative aspects of imposing emissions regulations, while at the same creating a situation where all nations can enjoy the benefits from these policies. Only through these kinds of policies can we ensure the well-being of all countries. It is imperative that we work together to solve this crisis before it is too late.