They will stick to their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, say members of the European Union. They voiced this determination after it began to seem Russia would not sign on, but here is what should be understood about that determination. It is purely rhetorical.
From the start, the Kyoto plan has been something of a European con game. For a variety of reasons, most of Europe would have to do far less to meet greenhouse-gas limits than would a compliant United States, which thought the plan over and decided to bow out. Now it turns out that all but two members of the 15-member European Union have failed to live up to their Kyoto goals this past year, as relatively painless as their goals were.
For the United States, the goals would not be painless. Meeting Kyoto objectives would require job-depriving damage to an economy that would then be less competitive with Europe, and to what end? No one seriously asserts that Kyoto would be more than a first step toward solving any warming problems, and meanwhile, the predictions that human-induced warming are leading the human race to catastrophe are suspect.
The Bush administration has taken fierce criticism for its refusal to embrace Kyoto, but the stance has appeared the appropriate one from the start, especially since the administration is also proceeding with research intended to provide more reliable answers.
Recently, Russian spokesmen made it sound that nation will not ratify the treaty unless it is drastically revised. That would seem the end of it, except for the hypocritical European rhetoric, a means of sounding righteous while dodging difficulty.