At the next UNFCCC conference of the parties (COP-13 / MOP-3), in Bali this December, the focus will be on devising an international agreement for the period after 2012. Obviously, an agreement that incorporates the United States would be a lot more viable than one that does not, though it is unlikely that the current administration would sign on to such an undertaking. As such, I wonder whether it might be possible or desirable to come up with an agreement that basically has a USA shaped hole in it: an open invitation for the United States to become involved after the 2008 election, with space having been set out for US participation.
If such an approach were taken, the choice about whether or not to bring the US ship into the port facility provided could become a significant political factor in the next election. The willingness of various candidates to accept or reject the offer could be one characteristic upon which the populace could evaluate them. Furthermore, having such an option from the outset would help avoid a situation where an agreement gets crafted – say – from 2012 to 2020, excluding the United States, and it then proves necessary to wait for the end of that commitment before an international regime including them may be devised.
I am just thinking off the top of my head here, but it seems like a potentially valuable strategy. Of course, the feasibility of any such approach depends upon a substantial proportion of the rest of the world being able to reach agreement on what ought to be done post-2012. It is difficult to predict, at this point in time, whether such consensus is likely to emerge.