|The Week That Was
May 13, 2000 NEW ON THE SEPP WEB
Western Fuels Association, a non-profit corporation acting as a purchaser of coal for a number of the electricity-generating cooperatives, filed suit against a number of eco-groups, claiming defamation and commercial damage. WFA claims that Ozone Action and others published misleading advertisements in the New York Times. At issue is the science underlying global warming; it will be tested in adversarial proceedings in court. We look forward to this!
The Pew Center for Global Climate Change organized one of its big gab fests in Washington on April 25-26. The purpose was to seek "innovative policy solutions" to what many of us regard as a non-existent problem. Lots of foreign participants from Europe and developing nations, including a handful of top governmental types. The expensive meeting at the fashionable Willard Hotel, complete with a four page ad in the Washington Post, will probably not make a dent in the $5-million yearly budget of the Pew Center. We had a chance to drop in and see some of the action.
The Honorable Robert Hill, Australian's minister for the environment, claimed that Australia is well advanced in implementing the Kyoto target. Australia has committed almost $1 billion to greenhouse-gas reduction and, of course, has established a government bureaucracy to administer these programs. The emphasis is on renewable energy, yet another subsidy to industrial groups willing to play along. Independent Australian sources, however, tell us that these programs are going nowhere and that Australia is not likely to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The government pays lip service to Kyoto but has made it repeatedly clear that the guiding principle is "no regrets."
[From the Green side, Clive Hamilton of The Australia Institute puts forth the opposite scenario: Australia will ratify Kyoto before COP-6 for diplomatic/political reasons; they see no downside risk and figure to meet their generous Kyoto targets (8% emissions ABOVE 1990 levels) by taking advantage of a Kyoto loop hole -- changing agricultural practices.]
The dismissal of the Norwegian government and the serious opposition of the US Senate may spook most European governments who survive via delicate coalitions. Yet the Dutch environment minister, Jan Pronk, was quite explicit: "Scientists have confirmed it: climate change is man-made. It is a threat to the future of mankind. The right question to ask is: how can it be prevented?"
Well, Jan, we will let you in on the bad news. Kyoto is not going to prevent climate change at all. According to the IPCC, it may reduce a hypothetical temperature increase by the insignificant amount of 0.05 C by 2050. And may we also note that the Dutch government hopes to meet its Kyoto targets by making use of Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism, which garners CO2 credits by investing in third-world projects. The joker in the deck is that Holland plans to use half of its regular foreign-aid budget for CDM. We know, because we just received an urgent plea from the Dutch Greens to send an email to their foreign minister asking him not to do this.
John Prescott, British deputy prime minister, blamed climate change for all weather catastrophes (of course, he meant climate change produced by fossil fuel burning; but that's not how he expressed it). His vision is to reduce the use of fossil fuels drastically, which is supposed to "deliver cleaner air, less traffic congestion, and warmer homes." We can see how eliminating automobiles will reduce congestion, but warmer homes? Come on, John.
The Canadians, the largest per-capita consumer of energy and emitter of CO2, did not make it to the Pew program. Canada does not have the protective checks and balances of the United States. Its prime minister has sweeping powers and as such, the Kyoto Protocol could be ratified without hearings. In fact, Canada's federal government is spending extraordinary amounts of money directly through various departments, and indirectly through subsides to special interest groups, to disseminate "misinformation" on global warming and the cost of Kyoto. The eco-groups are pushing Canada to be one of the first to ratify Kyoto, to show "leadership" and thereby exert pressure on other nations.
There is some hope, however. Canadians appear to be unhappy with the governing Liberal Party and there is a new Canadian Alliance Party (which is truly conservative) that has a good chance of forming the next government. The next federal elections will probably be held June 2001.
One who made it to the Pew confab was The Rt. Hon. John Gummer, M.P. Some of us remember him as the UK global-warming extremist in the former Conservative government. After he left office, he belabored the White House for advocating unlimited emissions trading, accusing the US of trying to buy its way out of Kyoto without suffering the pain of energy rationing. Actually, he is right; buying up excess "tropical air" from poor nations or unused "hot air" from Russia (at low prices) won't change the global emission of CO2 or do anything for the atmosphere. In person, John Gummer, a professional historian, turned out to be urbane and rather charming, but horribly misinformed.
So John, if we can prove to your satisfaction that the climate is NOT warming and that the theoretical models wildly exaggerate future warming, will you still push for Kyoto? And if we can convince you that any future warming would be meteorologically and economically beneficial and not threaten sea level rise, would that change your mind? And if we can prove that Kyoto is completely ineffective in reducing a hypothetical temperature rise, would you still insist on leading the world into economic suicide?