“Environmentalism Has Become An Inconvenient Ideology”

Peyton Knight contributes this update:

Tuesday, a congressional staff and media briefing titled “European Progress on Reducing Global Warming Emissions – A View from Italy of the Kyoto Protocol” was held on Capitol Hill.The guest speaker at the briefing was the Honorable Benedetto Della Vedova, a member of the Italian Parliament, President of the Liberal Reform Party, and former member of the European Parliament.

Della Vedova’s presentation can be summed up by one quote he offered: “Environmentalism has become an inconvenient ideology.”

He stressed “global warming is not necessarily an emergency,” and noted that global warming is likely to create some benefits for certain parts of the world, yet this goes unreported. He also noted that mitigation strategies for dealing with any harmful effects of global warming would be a much better use of scarce resources than capping emissions, which would have a negligible effect on the climate. He also pointed out that climate change is a natural phenomenon, and alarmism over global warming “can be used as a reason for suspending liberties” and impeding progress.

As for the Kyoto Protocol, he noted that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has been a failure, and has served as merely “a wealth transfer mechanism” whereby some EU nations profit by selling emissions credits to nations that need to produce more energy. Moreover, he noted, the EU as a whole has seen its global warming emissions increase by 0.8 percent between 2005 and 2006. The problem, Della Vedova said, is that under the ETS, there were more emissions credits issued than emissions that existed, reducing the ETS to little more than a government subsidy for interest groups and industry.

The prognosis for Europe fixing its ETS is not good, according to Della Vedova. He said that the EU response to the shortcomings of the ETS has been along the lines: “It hasn’t worked, but we’ll do better.” All the while, however, the EU fails to take any serious steps toward actually doing better.

Della Vedova also believes that symbolism is the main driver behind the Europeans’ support for the Kyoto Protocol. In essence, he explained, it is a way for Europe to distinguish itself from America and appear more environmentally conscious and globally minded. He also said there was a certain anti-American sentiment driving European support for the Kyoto Protocol as well.

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