TSR Extra: Recess Notes on Kyoto and CO2
DATE: May 8, 2001
BACKGROUND: As Congressmen and Senators head home for the Passover/Easter recess, allies of the global greens are preparing to challenge many of them on President Bush's decisions to not regulate carbon dioxide emissions and withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, signed by Al Gore in 1997. Here are some cold facts on climate change which might be useful:
1. Leading global warming advocates are interested in economics and power, not the environment. As Margot Wallstrom, the European Union's commissioner for the environment told The Independent of London: "This [global warming] is not a simple environmental issue where you can say it is an issue where the scientists are not unanimous. This is about international economy, about trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world. You have to understand what is at stake and that is why it is serious." In other words, Ms. Wallstrom is saying it is necessary to hobble the U.S. economy to help the failing, over-regulated European economies.
2. The Kyoto Protocol was set up to to place a heavy burden on the U.S. and virtually none on Europe. By setting a target of 7% below the 1990 level for CO2 emissions, the UN put the U.S. at a severe economic disadvantage. Using 1990 as a base year, Great Britain reaps enormous reduction credits because it switched from heavy use of high-sulfur coal to burning clean North Sea natural gas after that date. Germany gets similar credits for taking over the heavily polluting East German factories and closing them after that date. The European Union, which has demanded to be treated as a single entity, rather than separate countries, benefits from these actions and, therefore, will need to do very little to meet the treaty standards.
3. Europe and Japan have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. While they condemn the U.S. for failing to accept Kyoto, not a single European Union country has ratified it. In fact, of the approximately 100 countries which signed the treaty, only one, Romania, has ratified it.
4. Global warming predicted by the many UN models has not occurred and shows no sign of occurring. Over the last few years, UN climate models have been adjusted to show less warming as the warming they predicted failed to occur. The predicted temperature increases were only ratcheted up after climate talks in The Hague and Bonn collapsed. The facts are these: A. NASA weather balloons and satellites have shown no warming in the lower troposphere, that part of the atmosphere which is supposed to warm first under any greenhouse gas scenario. B. Data show surface temperatures increased 0.3 degrees Celsius between 1900 and 1940, declined 0.1 degree from 1940 to 1975 and increased 0.3 degrees from 1975 to 2000 for a total increase of about 0.6 degrees. C. This increase is about one-fifth of the normal temperature swings which have occurred over the last 1,000 years - surprising since we are still coming out of a mini-ice age which lasted from about the 14th to the 19th century. Easy as ABC.
5. Kyoto would cost American jobs. The only way for America to have complied with the Kyoto treaty would have been to severely restrict the burning of fossil fuels either with massive new energy taxes or by imposing severe rationing. Our Department of Energy, under the Clinton administration, produced a detailed report on the economic hardships and loss of jobs such schemes would create.
6. The notion of scientific agreement on man-caused climate warming is a myth. The fact is thousands of scientists, even those who worked on the UN study, have profound disagreements with the report and serious doubts about abnormal climate change and man's ability to affect it. Over 15,000 scientists, physicists, meteorologists and climatologists signed a petition strongly denouncing the Kyoto Protocol. As Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, who worked on the UN study said, "The whole notion of scientific consensus has been contrived to disguise the genuine disagreement among scientists on a number of issues. The aura of certainty with which IPCC's conclusions are being reported is clearly more a matter of politics than science." A press release about Lindzen's remarks can be found at http://www.cei.org/prreader.asp?ID=1379.
7. The notion that President Bush killed the Kyoto Protocol is absurd. It was already dead. Not only has the treaty been ratified by only one nation, because of its obvious flaws, it would never have been ratified by the U.S. Senate. In fact, the Senate passed a resolution 95-0 saying it would not ratify a treaty with the provisions contained within Kyoto. That is why the Clinton administration never sent the treaty to the Senate. Lacking Senate ratification, there never was U.S. agreement on the treaty, since the President and Vice-President cannot bind the U.S. to international treaties without the consent of the U.S. Senate.
8. There is no statutory authority for regulating carbon dioxide in the U.S. The Clean Air Act does not authorize the regulation of CO2, which is not a pollutant. If such regulation was possible the Clinton/Gore Administration would have done it. So, in essence, when President Bush said he would not regulate carbon dioxide, he was saying he would not do what he did not have the power to do.
9. Russia is pushing for the Kyoto Protocol because it believes it will make billions of dollars from the U.S. While Russia is one of the world's heaviest polluters, their emissions fell by some 30 percent over the last 10 years due to the collapse of their economy... it's that 1990 base year, again. This means Russia would have emissions "credits" they could sell to U.S. businesses which would be unable to meet Kyoto standards.
The amazing thing about U.S. reaction to the Kyoto Protocol is not that President Bush withdrew us from it but that Al Gore, as Vice President, signed it in the first place and any Congressmen and Senators support it.
by Tom Randall, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research
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