I love Kyoto, but…

At EconLog, Bryan Caplan sums up succinctly the method whereby President Bush this week was able to sound more predisposed toward a global treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions — that is, ration carbon-based energy — without really being so:

If you don’t like telling people No, a convenient alternative is setting conditions you know other people won’t accept. Then the impasse is their fault, you see.

He cites many liberal Democrats’ opposition to trade agreements, which they claim is “qualified,” not because they’re opposed to liberalized trade per se, but because they think it should be made “fair” through a morass of side agreements and provisions dealing with potential adverse effects from the increased trade.

But turnabout is fair play. In the same State of the Union speech in which Bush advocated approval of trade treaties with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea — which union-friendly Democrats have stalled claiming the need for such provisions — Bush offered on climate change policy to “let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.” But…“This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.”

Of course, the chance of this is nil, as India and China unapologetically beckon to the world, “Send us your over-regulated, energy-starved manufacturing.” A good name for this is “the ‘yeah, but’ way of saying No.”