The U.S. Senate has packed its energy bill with massive new "greenhouse gas" and "global warming provisions," even though the Kyoto Protocol, commonly referred to as the global warming treaty, is all but dead as leaders in nation after nation take a fresh look at the flawed treaty.
President George W. Bush led the way in March of 2001 when he made the U.S. the first country to officially reject the treaty. While many in the U.S. and other countries took strong exception to the Administration's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, it should have come as no surprise. The Senate had voted back on July 25, 1997 to refuse to ratify any treaty with the provisions Kyoto contains.1
More recently, Australia has decided to abandon the treaty, too. Canada is leaning toward rejecting it and Russia is on the fence.
The Russians are fence-sitting while they determine if they can make more money selling carbon dioxide emissions "credits" to the European Union (EU) or oil to the United States. Due to its faltering economy, Russia is well below the targeted level of emissions and would like to sell "emissions credits" to the EU.2 However, Russia also has huge oil reserves, which it would like to sell to the U.S., but the Kyoto Protocol would severely reduce the use of oil. The fact that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call President Bush after September 11 could provide a clue as to Russia's ultimate decision.
In Canada, the condemnation of Kyoto has become so intense that the environment minister of Alberta has said that if Canada ratifies the treaty, his province would opt out.3
There is, now, even some possibility that several EU countries, formerly strong supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, will bow out. This is particularly true of Germany where the Green Party no longer has a voice in government and 19 nuclear power plants are scheduled for closing, shifting electricity production to fossil fuels.4
Two simple facts are causing this worldwide reconsideration of even the basic concept of global warming.
First, reducing carbon dioxide emissions would mean arbitrary and severe restrictions on the burning of fossil fuels. This would, in turn, reduce energy supplies while at the same time increasing costs, resulting in severe damage to industrialized economies.5
Second, many scientists, including Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Salllie Baliunas and Willie Soon of Harvard University, have correctly pointed out that none of the global warming predicted by computer models has occurred. Further, they have raised strong doubts that mankind can affect climate at all.6
In other words: All pain and no gain.
Now, into the jaws of this overwhelming evidence that the Kyoto Protocol and its underpinning concepts of greenhouse gases and global warming are becoming political dinosaurs, rides the intrepid U.S. Senate - or, as it likes to be referred to, "the world's greatest deliberative body."
After hours of typically-acrimonious "deliberation," the senators decided to include Kyoto Protocol provisions in the Senate version of the energy bill.
One provision of the bill would create a White House Office of Climate Policy. This would surely grow into a vast new federal bureaucracy that would impose Kyoto-like controls, since the office would:
* Work with four federal agencies to create and manage a massive data base of greenhouse gas emissions;
* Require companies to voluntarily, yes, that's right, "require" companies to "voluntarily" report all greenhouse gas emissions;
* Submit to Congress a plan for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;
* Impose regulations to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.7
All this from a U.S. Senate that rejected the Kyoto Protocol because arbitrary reductions in carbon dioxide would harm our economy and cost jobs and because it did not apply equally to all nations.
In essence, senators have said, we don't want the international
community shooting America in the foot: We will do it ourselves.
Tom Randall is the Director of Environmental & Regulatory Affairs of the John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs of The National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, DC. Comments may be sent to TRandall@nationalcenter.org.
Warming: Charges and Responses," Bonn Global Warming Earth
Summit Fact Kit, Global Warming Information Center Fact Sheet,
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC,
2001, available on the Internet at http://www.nationalcenter.org/Bonn2001.html.
2 Eryn Gable, "Russian Ratification - and Pot of Credits - Seen Vital to Kyoto Pact," Greenwire, May 15, 2002, downloaded from http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/Backissues/051502gw.htm#1 on May 15, 2002.
3 Steven Chase, "If Kyoto Deal Found Wanting, Alberta Ready to Opt Out," Toronto Globe and Mail, downloaded from http://www.theglobeandmail.com on May 21, 2002.
5 "Global Warming: Charges and Responses."
7 "National Greenhouse Gas Database," Title XI of the "Energy Policy Act of 2002 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate" (H.R. 4), United States House of Representatives, downloaded from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c107:1:./temp/~c107ZnFvoK:e640089: on May 21, 2002.
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