Global Warming: Cutting Through the Fog of the Bonn Agreement


DATE: July 25, 2001

BACKGROUND: The U.S. is being excoriated by both European politicians and American environmentalists because it is the only nation that refused to sign a "dead-of-night" agreement on climate change at the current meeting in Bonn, Germany. The agreement was arrived at when the European negotiators made major concessions to Japan on penalties for any failure to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. However, the actual terms of the agreement were never finalized. That job has been left to lower level civil servants, who are considering heavy penalties, taxes and restrictions on energy usage. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is criticizing the President for a failure of international leadership because of the President's refusal to sign the agreement.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: The Kyoto Protocol, provisions of which were already unanimously defeated by Senate Democrats and Republicans, was only made worse by the Bonn agreement. President Bush was right to reject it.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: President Bush was absolutely right to refuse to sign an agreement for which the terms have yet to be decided. Such an agreement has great potential for making the already-disastrous Kyoto Protocol, provisions of which were rejected by the Senate in a 95-0 vote in 1997, even worse. This "agreement without substance" seems to be designed solely to pressure the U.S. to agree to a treaty that would wreck our economy and put Americans out of work.

DISCUSSION: The U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol was the direct cause of the European Union making major concessions to Japan to get Japan to sign an essentially substanceless agreement. For the Kyoto Protocol to go into effect, countries that produce at least 55 percent of the world's so-called greenhouse gases must ratify it. If Japan had joined the U.S. in withdrawing from the treaty - as it had threatened to do - reaching that percentage would have been virtually impossible.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: For a comprehensive look at the charges and responses surrounding climate change, see: For the text of the 1997 Byrd-Hagel resolution in which the U.S. Senate voted down provisions of the Kyoto Treaty by a 95-0 vote, visit

by Tom Randall, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs, The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
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