Russia Better Off Withour Kyoto
by Amy Ridenour
It is difficult
to imagine that someone who maneuvered to the top of the KGB
would fail to recognize his own self-interest.
That's why it's
hard to credit recent reports that Russian President Vladimir
Putin has changed his mind and may now be willing to sign the
Kyoto climate change treaty - a pact requiring draconian energy
cutbacks that would devastate Russia's economic recovery.
The reports - mostly
by British journalists firmly allied with global warming alarmists
- more likely are part of a last-gasp lobby to impose Kyoto's
burdensome mandates on the West while disregarding the full-speed-ahead
economies of China and India.
China has more than
1.2 billion people. India more than a billion. These powerhouses
compete for another distinction: Which nation can burn the most
coal. Whichever wins, both countries will soon be emitting more
greenhouse gases than the U.S. and all of Europe combined.
of Russia lies in Asia, Putin hardly seems likely to concede
such an economic advantage to his nearby Asian Tigers - each
with a population roughly six times that of Russia.
Such a scheme would
knock flat Putin's ambitious plan to double Russia's GDP by the
end of this decade while gradually increasing its population.
The Soviet Union
held more than 290 million people in 1990, the last year of its
existence. Following the breakaway of numerous republics, Russia
today has a population under 144 million. It currently is losing
nearly a million residents a year to emigration.
The only way to
keep Russia's economy chugging ahead and to halt the current
brain drain is to unshackle its market from socialist-style regulations
- the same stultifying rules Kyoto would re-impose.
Russia, efforts by the European Union to persuade Putin to ratify
Kyoto could well be thwarted by the justified skepticism of his
astute chief economic adviser Andrei Illarionov.
Russia is poised
to break out of the lethargy imposed during 72 years of rule
by Lenin, Stalin and their bumbling but lethal successors. A
doubling of GNP by the end of the decade is decidedly doable
given Russia's vast petroleum and mineral resources.
socialist controls would stifle that growth and slow Russia to
the sluggish pace of Old Europe, where bureaucracies soak the
hard-working and cater to the indolent.
As Illarionov recently
told the BBC: "I'm sure the Kyoto Protocol is not good for
Russia, not good for the European Union, not good for Canada
and, indeed, not good for the world. Kyoto is not the answer
- it's a first step to destroying not only our economy but the
He pointedly observed
that the nations that have shunned Kyoto, such as the U.S., Singapore,
Taiwan and Australia, are the only ones currently enjoying economic
percent of the world's people live in countries that have not
taken any obligations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,"
Illarionov said. "All of the real science - studies and
research that can be replicated - shows that global warming itself
is either slight or non-existent and that human contributions
are nearly infinitesimal compared to the whole."
Illarionov was even
more blunt in a May 18, 2004 speech to Britain's Adam Smith Institute,
saying, "Kyoto would result in an economic 'holocaust' for
Russia. Kyoto-ism is another example of totalitarian ideology
like Marxism, communism and socialism. Russia has imported those
ideas from Europe and suffered badly in the 20th century. Kyoto-ism
would lead to the creation of bureaucratic monsters at national
and supra-national levels that - through allocation of emissions
quotas - would be a blow against basic human freedoms and human
rights and would decide the fate of nations, companies and people
In the same speech,
Illarionov also called the treaty "environmentally-harmful":
"Kyoto harms economic growth, perpetuates poverty, and would
undermine everyone's ability to achieve a cleaner, healthier
environment. Therefore, the most important policy for environmental
protection is creating the right conditions for economic growth.
Kyoto has the opposite effect and is therefore environmentally-harmful."1
nonetheless are mounting a desperate campaign to pressure America
to ratify it, funded in part by Hungarian-born financier George
Soros and other fabulously wealthy left-wingers.
The quixotic effort
to approve the Climate Stewardship Act - the McCain-Lieberman
Kyoto Lite - includes a flurry of specious advocacy and the scientifically-laughable
disaster flick "The Day After Tomorrow."
thankfully, already has rejected the Kyoto Treaty and seems unlikely
to relent. It may well be time for Bush to call Putin directly
and paraphrase the advice former British prime minister Margaret
Thatcher once gave his father when the senior Bush began to waiver
on the eve of the first Gulf war: "Vladimir, now is no time
to go wobbly."
# # #
Amy Ridenour is president of the National Center for Public Policy
Research. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Alex Singleton,
"Kyoto 'A Totalitarian Ideology,' Says Top Putin Advisor,"
Adam Smith Institute blog entry of May 18, 2004, downloaded from
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/ on May 28, 2004.