The Kyoto protocol died when the President of the United States announced on March 28, 2001 that he would not implement the treaty that his country signed in Kyoto four years ago (1). The Senate has not ratified it, but the main reason he invoked was that the protocol would harm the American economy.

This information was barely discussed in the US (only one sentence in the Wall Street Journal that day). The rest of the world strongly denounced such a lack of respect for international treaties.

The American position is: maybe global warming will harm us in the long term, but maybe it won't. So let us do nothing. This is the dice policy, as opposed to the European policy, based on insurance: let us spend money right now on that problem even if we are far from sure it's useful. In a similar case, everybody chose the insurance policy for the Y2K bug, probably because the danger was (or seemed to be) immediate: an IT manager could have been fired if something had happened in his company.

Another, more cynical, explanation of the American position is that the US are rich enough to build Dutch-like dykes around Manhattan if the waters of the ocean rise one day.

Update: on the following day (March 30, 2001), the WSJ featured an editorial about the affair, but still no real, informational article. Of course they strongly supported Mr. Bush.

(1) See for example