|The Week That Was
July 28, 2001
We bring you an informative letter on the global warming debate by Tom Randall, director of environmental and regulatory affairs, and Gretchen Randall, director of energy and regulatory affairs, The National Center for Public Policy Research.
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The Week That Was July 28, 2001 brought to you by SEPP
The usual delegations from some 180 nations, plus Green NGOs, and a full turnout from the media.
Our SEPP-sponsored Student Climate Crusade made a big impact, with full press and TV coverage. They were a noisy bunch, complete with a chicken and a cow costume, a big drum, and home-made posters. It attracted attention and gained us a lot of interviews, incl. with BBC World TV and with the top British science journalists. (See Reuters report below). Also with French, Finnish TV, and Italian and Japanese press.
Our climate science and economics briefings attracted a Vice Minister of Environment from Japan. Separately, we briefed the Environment Minister from Luxembourg.
A Congressional delegation, headed by Sen. Bingaman and Lieberman, made no perceptible impact.
And the final outcome: (See below)
A real nothing-burger: After major concessions to Japan, Canada, and Russia on forest sinks, the Kyoto Protocol will be even less effective. No real enforcement and no ratification as yet, and no detailed national policies on how to get emission cuts.
So it's on to COP-7 in Morocco on Oct 28 for yet another two-week round
The sixth annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the climate treaty, involving all of 180 national delegations, met in Bonn last week and activated the Kyoto Protocol (KP), designed to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. The United States abstained, with George Bush calling the KP "fatally flawed."
It was a big triumph of bureaucracy over the atmosphere-and an adequate validation of the Bush position. The KP was ineffective to start with; it will be even less effective now that the COP made substantial concessions to key non-European nations who were holding out for a better deal: Japan, Canada, and Russia. They all got big concessions for forest sinks; instead of cutting CO2 emissions by the required amounts, they only need to watch their trees grow. No wonder the Greens have mixed feelings. And emission trading can ease the burden further. Russia will be glad to sell its unused CO2 credits of "hot air," now enhanced by their forest sinks.
With enforcement still up in the air, at the very best, Kyoto will reduce the calculated temperature in 2050 by 0.02 degrees C. (That's one-fiftieth of a degree and cannot even be measured with an ordinary thermometer.) More likely, the Protocol will do nothing for the climate.
The coming into force of the KP still depends on the approval of the 38 legislatures of industrialized nations. They may have second thoughts once they gauge the cost to their national economies. Until 55% of these nations emitting at least 55% of greenhouse gases sign up, it's not a done deal.
One thing for sure. COP meetings will continue, with lifetime careers for some 2000 civil servants, mostly paid by the UN. This giant bureaucratic apparatus will not only survive but grow by leaps and bounds, adding inspectors and legal experts to the UN, and many more to the signing nations who will have to defend themselves against an army of international bureaucrats not accountable to the nations paying their salaries.
The control costs are considerable; they are estimated to double electric rates to European consumers and raise their already high price of motor fuels by further taxes. On top of the huge administrative costs, there are also the direct subventions to be paid to 140 developing countries to finance their eventual transition to lower greenhouse emissions. Let's see how European politicians deal with their citizens - in light of the revolt of the truckers last autumn in Western Europe.
The real irony is that had the COP accepted the compromises offered by
the US in November 2000 at The Hague, the concessions might not have been
necessary and the US would be part of the deal. (And the temperature reduction
might have been 0.05 degrees, equally unimpressive.)
Excerpted from a Reuters story by Robin Pomeroy (July 18, 2001)
While their leftist counterparts in Italy planned protests against globalization and U.S. defense and environment policies, a small group of U.S. students traveled to Germany to defend their government's stance on global warming.
Around 20 protesters marched outside the security gates of the United Nations negotiations which will decide the future of the 1997 Kyoto climate pact, to back President Bush's decision to dump the deal.
"This was an opportunity to come and support our country, support our president and oppose a terrible treaty," said Craig Rucker, Executive Director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow which organized the protest.
Rucker, who said he spearheaded a campaign last year against the environmentalist U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader, told Reuters around 40 like-minded students from around the United States had paid their own way to travel to Germany to press the rest of the world to scrap Kyoto.
"Our purpose in this project is to prove that the average college student isn't a Nader-voting, tree-hugging radical leftist," declared the group's Web site which the students had set as the homepage on computers available to delegates.
Interested parties have been allowed accreditation for the conference.
The students, one dressed as a cow to ridicule the idea that methane emissions from farm animals contributes to global warming, said they supported Bush's line that the science behind climate change is unsure and Kyoto would harm the U.S. economy.