International relations have long focused on managing conflict and competition. The result is a virtual obsession with power and leadership, categories which are largely meaningless for international environmental management based on cooperation, transparency and accountability as its primary tools. However, old habits die hard so the question persists as to which country is ‘leading’ on environmental policy or which has the ‘best’ environmental policies. This attitude is widespread in the United States, the pre-eminent world power of the last decade of the twentieth century, and makes it particularly difficult to confront America’s failing and other countries strengths in a field such as climate change.