For the Bush administration, the answer to that question has been clear since 2001: "No." However, simply saying "No" to Kyoto seems to be a more and more difficult position to maintain for the White House. It does seem like the Bush Administration is being pressured on all sides: U.S. states and cities, leaders of the G8 and even members of the Republican Party are calling for action on climate change.

So far, Bush's response to this criticism has been a lot of hot air, and unfortunately the announcement made yesterday morning in Thailand is no exception. This so-called "Vision statement" has no specific objectives in terms of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. There are no indications of how this mechanism would work, or how much money is going to be invested in it, and the technological options proposed would please even the most anti-Kyoto forces in the world - like Mr. Bush's buddies at Exxon.

On the other hand, the answer to the question above should be equally clear to the 152 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol: Kyoto has to be the only game in town. Why? Because it is the only global agreement with targets and timetables to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because it took about a decade to negotiate and clarify all the rules, and finally because thanks to the Kyoto agreement countries around the world are starting to reduce their emissions. Countries should know that the minute we start signing side deals with only a handful of countries and where anybody can choose to do what they want to do, the global effort to tackle climate change becomes seriously compromised. And if I were paranoid, I'd say that's exactly what the White House is trying to do.

I can just imagine Canadian Environment Minister, Stéphane Dion, and our Prime Minister, Paul Martin, waking-up to news of this new agreement this morning, and being rather unhappy with their U.S. counterparts. After all, the vast majority of Canadians take great pride in the fact that we ratified Kyoto despite the Bush administration's refusal to do so.

Not only that, but Canadian officials are hard at work preparing the next United Nations meeting on climate change, which is set to take place in Montreal at the end of November. This meeting will be one of the most important one since Kyoto in 1997. It's the first meeting of Conference of Parties (countries that have signed and ratified the 1992 Rio Convention on climate change â€" which includes the U.S.) to ever take place in North America, and it's objective is to prepare for the next steps after Kyoto.

For the Canadian government, and most of the countries that have ratified Kyoto, the new U.S. lead initiative is nothing less than a slap in the face. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time. In 2001 when the U.S. announced it was pulling out of Kyoto, Christine Todd Whitman was attending a conference on the Kyoto Protocol with some 34 other ministers of the environment from all over the Americas (that conference was held in Montreal and hosted by Canadian Environment Minister of the time, David Anderson). It seemed Whitman failed, or maybe just forgot, to mention to anybody at the meeting, including Minister Anderson, the fact that the White House was pulling out of Kyoto. Clearly, he was not impressed.

But in July of the same year the rest of the world united and refused to let the Bush Administration 'kill' this important international agreement. We hope that this effort can be repeated, and that the U.S. administration can be convinced to take meaningful action and come back on board.

All of that being said, Mr. Bush and I do agree on one point, Kyoto won't cut it. Unfortunately, the convergence stop's there. For those of us concerned about climate change, Kyoto is only the beginning, since industrial countries must reduce emissions up to 80 percent by mid-century (compared to 1990) in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

- Steven

Steven is a Greenpeace Canada climate campaigner who joined us on July 25th. He has been fielding calls from Canadian press over the satellite phone about the global warming "Vision Statement" released by the White House. After Greenland, the ship will go to Canada.