Columnists: Hans Nilsson, Fourfact

Published on: 29 Apr 2008

Losership instead of leadership

It is quite refreshing when the political language for once leaves the traditional politeness and when politicians lose their temper and speak frankly. Not in the planned manner to gain favours or show power as a part of the political game, but simply because there is a need to name things and actions correctly. A rat is a rat and not a rodent – a cat is a cat and not a feline!

It happened recently when the German minister for environment, Sigmar Gabriel, had heard George W. Bush promise that the U.S. should level out its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2025. Not reduce – but just level out.

Mr Gabriel called the speech that Mr Bush delivered “Neanderthal” and said that it showed “losership instead of leadership”. He also added that he was grateful that there were other voices in the US (than that of the president).

We are waiting for a change, but ...

We certainly need a new attitude from the U.S. to solve the global problems, but will it come and will it come in time? There will be a G8 meeting in Japan in July (Hokkaido 7–9 July) when it is expected that a plan for clean energy and efficiency will be tabled. How can we expect that to happen if the U.S. will follow the Bush guidelines? We are preparing for the post-Kyoto agreement to be laid down in detail in Copenhagen December 2009. But the next U.S. president will not take office till late January 2009. And will it be a president with a programme for energy and climate or …?

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have launched explicit programmes that address the issues, but will they survive the campaigning and will they honour their own ideas when facing a campaign that focuses on individual economic issues (the personal wallet) for a country whose economy is almost in free fall?

Or will it be John McCain who takes office? He is promising the Americans a petrol-rebate during the summer-months. Certainly not a way to handle the climate!

And frankly speaking, have we not heard much of the Bush-rhetoric in our own countries? From sceptics, from business organisations, from politicians that want to turn an election fast (without thinking to much about the consequences) and from hard-core liberal economists?

While Bush is trying to act like a champion, he is coming out a loser, and, unfortunately, there are too many willing to follow him. But, when it is so sorely needed, who is willing to provide the leadership?


Other columns by Hans Nilsson