"I am instructing our delegation right now to show increased negotiating flexibility if a comprehensive plan can be put in place," Gore announced at the end of a vivid (and lengthy) exposition on global warming. Few at the 160-nation meeting knew exactly what that meant. Greenpeace complained the speech was full of "hot air;" European Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said he was "disappointed" that "the rhetoric was not met by the reality." And the U.S. business community — from which Gore would like at least a measure of support in 2000 — wasn't happy either. William F. O'Keefe, head of the business-based Global Climate Coalition, purported to be "very disappointed and troubled."
Gore's eight-hour stopover, then, may hang like an albatross if a deal acceptable to the Senate cannot be brokered in the next three days — which in turn depends on getting developing nations on board. "The imperative is to do what we promise, rather than to promise what we cannot do," Gore said in a subtle dig at the European delegation. If Kyoto's promise falls flat, he'll get it from both sides back home for what he did, and did not do.