|The Week That Was
December 9, 2000
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
In addition to providing a "scientific cover" for Al Gore's campaign speech on global warming, the leaked IPCC draft Summary was also supposed to boost the Hague climate negotiations. But by now, most of the world had been immunized to scary weather stories and climate disasters. The collapse of the Hague talks could have been predicted - and was -- from the tone of the massive ads that ran in major newspapers. Our article in the Financial Times (Canada) provides an analysis of the US position that proved to be unacceptable to Europeans.
Latest news (Dec. 8): Ottawa talks of this week, designed to revive the failed Hague negotiations, turn out to be fruitless and fail to narrow the gap between the "Umbrella group" (U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia) and the European Union. This cancels the high-level meeting in Norway, planned for next week, and postpones further discussions to Bonn in May 2001. Well, there goes another Clinton foreign policy triumph into the dustbin of history.
The foreign press devoted significant attention to the story, with many articles describing the talks as "deadlocked," and blaming what was seen as obstructionist U.S. tactics for the stalemate. That was before the US made far-reaching concessions.
Here's a sampling of headlines from overseas, all from November 20:
"Gas-Guzzling U.S. Under Fire at Global Warming Talks" (Agence France Presse)
"U.S. Blamed for Climate Treaty Talks Deadlock" (London Daily Telegraph)
"Climate Talks Fail to Close Rift with U.S." (London Guardian)
"U.S. Blocks Attempts to Cut Global Warming" (London Independent)
"Pollution Pact Under Threat as America Is Accused of Con Trick" (London Times)
One of the few U.S. outlets to pay attention to the Hague talks, the New York Times, presented a quite different take on how the talks were going. Their November 20 headline: "U.S. Move Improves Chance for Global Warming Treaty."
U.S. Wins and the Earth Loses - Let the Warming Continue!
LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Britain on Sunday blamed France for the embarrassing collapse of international talks on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott criticised his French counterpart, Dominique Voynet, saying she had got ``cold feet'' over the proposed deal and could not understand the complexities of what was on offer. ``Madame Voynet made it very clear she was tired,'' Prescott told Channel 4 television news. ``She said she couldn't understand all the details.''
Voynet told France's Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the deal was a "bad agreement" that it would have been wrong not to resist. Prescott said: "Well, if she said she couldn't understand the deal, how could she know that it was a bad deal?"
Prescott, who is also responsible for the environment, said he hoped an agreement would be reached, but warned that the political climate could change in the coming months. "This is not something that the world can walk away from. Every country in the world is a victim of climate change -- we all have the same incentive to reach agreement and we will.''
Negotiations are set to resume next May. Experts say that the failure in The Hague to agree on cuts of emissions gases such as carbon dioxide could bring more ravaging storms and floods such as those in Asia, Europe and Australia this year.
"PATHETIC AND MACHO"
''She got cold feet, felt she could not explain it, said she was exhausted and tired and could not understand the detail, and then refused to accept it,'' Prescott, Britain's secretary of state for environment and transport, told BBC radio. Voynet, a member of the Green Party who negotiated on behalf of the EU, countered in an interview carried in the French press that the proposals by the United States -- the world's largest polluter -- were neither reasonable nor acceptable. She termed Prescott's remarks "pathetic" and "macho."
A SAGE COMMENT FROM http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/November%202000.htm
"It was difficult to suppress a modicum of schadenfreude when Old 2-J [Prescott] returned from the Junkfest with his tail between his legs. He thought he was going to manage the usual politician's late-night horse-trading to produce a compromise. What he did not realise is that, thanks to the benefits of proportional representation, the Greens have cornered all the positions of Environmental Minister in Europe. As theological fundamentalists, they are not interested in compromise. They are right and everyone else must conform to their code. The fact that it is a cheap way of waging economic war against the USA is just a little bonus. Meanwhile, real pollution continues ."
But in a message dated 11/23/00 6:17:39 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Thanks for the tip, dear gjvalentine. It prompted the following:
"Dear Mr. Loy,
Please do everything in your power to pull the U.S. delegation out of COP-6 and denounce the Kyoto Protocol immediately. Vice President Gore should be on trial for treason for signing such an ill-conceived document - the science of Global Climate Change is weak, at best...and certainly not convincing enough to place the sovereignty of the U.S. at risk. I'm tired of junk science driving policy and I'm sick and tired of panic-mongerers blaming every natural catastrophe on Global Warming...enough is enough. The longer we support these nonsensical positions, the longer the "problem" of Global Warming will remain. This is a genuine situation where the phrase "ignore it and it will go away" is the absolute truth. Thanks for your time and attention."
(News item from the Financial Times, Nov 29)
A green paper on security of energy supply due to be adopted by the European Commission on Nov 29. It is the first major review of energy policy since the 1970s.
It comes in the wake of the high moral tone adopted by most EU ministers at The Hague climate change talks in refusing to let the US escape some of the direct reductions in greenhouse gases it is supposed to make under the Kyoto protocol. Even before its publication, the Commission paper had succeeded in its aim of launching an energy policy debate. Greenpeace, the environmental body, wrote a furious letter last week to Francois Lamoureux, the Commission's director general for energy and transport, of "reducing the EU's credibility in the eyes of the world" by suggesting the Union "is not in a position to meet its Kyoto protocol targets" without resorting to "this moribund energy source" of nuclear power. The green paper claims "not to seek to maximise energy self-sufficiency or to minimise dependence, but to reduce the risks linked to such dependence".
This dependence on imports fell from 60 per cent of energy consumption in 1973 to 50 percent last year, but on present trends is likely to rise again to 70 per cent by 2030 as Europe increasingly rejects indigenous coal and nuclear power in favour of imported gas. "Our dependence will be less marked, if we continue to increase competition in gas and electricity, begin giving aid for renewable energy, keep an open option on nuclear power and take drastic measures to curb energy demand in construction and transport," said Mr. Lamoureux.
On the supply side, the Commission proposes an increase to the current 90-day oil reserves with the extra stocks available for "anti-speculative" release on to the market, in the same way as the US recently used its petroleum reserve.
SEPP Comment: They don't spell out just how this is to be done; but it will certainly increase the cost to the European consumer
SEPP Comment: Keep nuclear option open? Five of the eight EU states with nuclear power have adopted a moratorium on its expansion and, of the other three, only Finland looks likely to build a new reactor in the next few years.
Just for background: According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Kyoto would cost the U.S. economy $400 billion per year in production that would have been shut down; raise electric utility bills by 80 percent to 85 percent and impose a permanent Kyoto gasoline tax of 45 cents to 55 cents per gallon. As if the shocking economic costs were not enough of an argument against Kyoto, the mounting scientific evidence questioning the impact of human behavior on climate change has increasingly robbed global warming theorists of their veneer of scientific credibility.
"The Dutch government organises for the members of the foreign press an excursion to show the Dutch results of the Kyoto Protocol. During this excursion, we will visit two large-scale CO2 reduction projects. The first project we visit is the Amercentrale power station, one of the largest in the world using biomass. The station uses waste wood for the production of gas, which is burnt alongside fossil fuels. The project will lead to an annual reduction of 164 kton CO2.
Comment: Waste wood into gas? Why not just burn it?
The other project we visit is a glasshouse-based horticulture complex where CO2, a by-product of industrial processes at a Shell Per+ refinery, will be used to promote the growth of plants. This project will lead to an annual reduction of 303 kton CO2.
Comment: Will it really reduce CO2 emissions? Don't people eat this stuff from greenhouses? Well, at least it becomes clear that CO2 speeds plant growth.
Holland's largest paper De Telegraf, ran a puff piece during COP-6 on the "Green OPEC.' In 20 years, they say, most of its energy will come from biomass. The article cavalierly dismisses CO2-free nuclear energy as having an"image problem."
In the meantime, the Netherlands managed to reduce CO2 emissions in 1999 compared to previous years. Guess how this was done? They imported 3800 megawatts of electric power from Belgium and France. Can you guess where most of the energy came from? If you guessed "nuclear," you get a small prize. Yet not a word from Jan Pronk and the Dutch government.
But hypocrisy reaches some kind of apogee with French president Chirac lambasting the U.S. for emitting CO2 so copiously. Yes, we would be emitting less if we produced most of our electricity from nuclear reactors as France does.