September 1997


The UN Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto (Japan) is only a few weeks away and, most of the countries have announced what position they intend to bring into the negotiations. Even the U.S. has finally announced its proposal on the reduction of CO2 emissions, which was revealed in a speech by President Clinton on October 22, 1997 at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

The following discussion, Part I, will outline the positions of several countries on the issue and provide an outlook on the up-coming negotiations in Kyoto, while in Part II (“Tradable Emissions Permits – the Perfect Solution?”) emissions trading systems proposals shall be reviewed.

United States

President Clinton announced in his speech on October 23, 1997, at the National Geographic Society in Washington, that the U.S. will commit itself to reducing CO2 emissions to its 1990 emissions level by the years 2008-2012 and a further reduction in the following 5 years.

The Administration, in addition plans a $5 billion package of spending on R&D and tax incentives, energy-efficiency standards, Federal government energy initiatives and later on a national and an international emissions permit trading system.

The proposal also noted that the U.S. will insist that developing countries be involved in the reduction of greenhouse gases, otherwise, the U.S. threatened it would not sign-on to a treaty. In which form and what part developing countries would have to play in reducing greenhouse gases that would satisfy the Administration was left open.

The earlier prospect of a carbon tax brought so much criticism that the government has now distanced itself from the idea of an “open” carbon tax. The Administration now supports the politically more acceptable solution -a national and an international system of tradable emission permits. The advantages for the Administration are that in a trading system the economic burden is probably smaller and also less visible than in a tax regime. It can even earn some support from well-known economists,(1)  and be portrayed as an innovative, progressive, and market-oriented approach.

The government’s planned increase in spending on R&D will be less controversial since some industries and business will profit from it, while the costs are buried in the national budget and will fall on the taxpayer. The impact of the increased spending on R&D is still disputed, since not everyone agrees with the findings and projections of the Department of Energy Study about the “Potential Impact of Energy Technologies by 2010 and Beyond,”(2) which predicts rather dramatic technological improvements, with the expenses of increased government spending in principal covered by cost savings from less energy use.

The approval of the Senate to a treaty containing legally binding emissions targets depends strongly on the participation of developing countries in the agreement. In its vote (95-0) for the resolution co-sponsored by Senators Robert Byrd (D-W.VA) and Charles Hagel (R-NE) the Senate showed its unwillingness to sign on to restrictions for U.S. industry while developing countries such as South Korea, India, China, and Mexico are not required to participate, especially because these countries, in the near future, will be the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. The timetable of bringing developing countries into a treaty and the form of their involvement will probably be deciding factor on whether the Senate will approve the treaty.

During the latest meeting in Bonn, Germany which was intended to prepare a draft for a treaty to be signed in Kyoto, the U.S. Administration presented its proposal and tried to win support among other countries. So far, however, there seemed to be disagreement about most key points of such a potential treaty, such as which emissions target, what timetable, who would have to participate, and how countries would be allowed to achieve the emissions target.

European Union

The EU is the biggest advocate for a drastic cut in greenhouse gas emissions and suggests a cut of CO2 emissions by 15% from the 1990 emissions level by 2010. The EU has criticized the U.S. proposal as insufficient and as not going far enough and has questioned the U.S. commitment to prevent global warming. The EU has a number of reasons for taking that position:

First, the political clout of the environmental movements in Europe (especially in Germany, but also in the Netherlands, Scandinavia and increasingly in France) puts European governments under pressure to call for a stringent reduction of emissions. European industry, fearing that Europe would go ahead with such a policy on its own, is concerned about its competitiveness in the global market, and therefore strongly argues for a “leveling of the playing field.” It is especially concerned about giving American and Asian competitors an additional advantage. Some in the industry are even hoping that new demand for “environmental technology” would benefit their advanced technology sector.

The EU is in a unique position because it has signed the treaty as a body (as well as the single member states), which allows it to arrange different targets for its members as long it meets the target for the EU as a whole. EU’s internal goals range from a 40% increase for Portugal to 30% cuts for Luxembourg and 25% for Germany, Austria, and Denmark. The huge reductions in some of the countries are achievable without a dramatic impact on industrial production because of the individual circumstances.

For example, the 1990 level for Germany includes the whole former East German industry, famous for its dependency on coal burning and, consequently, big CO2 emissions. The decision to close many of these unprofitable and inefficient plants makes it easier to achieve big cuts in emissions. Great Britain cut the subsidies for coal mines, which led to a switch from coal to natural gas, and less CO2 emissions. But these decisions were based on economic circumstances, not on concern for possible climate change. This could be seen when Germany’s government backed-off from a decision to cut more coal subsidies after angry mine workers “visited” the German government in Bonn.

The EU-members agreed to introduce a EU-wide carbon tax to reduce CO2 emissions, but despite this decision, the tax has never been implemented. The fear of a negative impact on the European economies loomed too large, especially if Europe would go ahead with such a policy despite the fact that others are not introducing similar measures.

The EU has always been pushing for higher standards but seems more reluctant than the U.S. to embrace market-oriented solutions. The idea of an international tradable permits system is more difficult to sell in Europe, where people are more willing to accept that their governments set standards and industry has to find a way to meet the standards. One has to keep in mind that industries are often closely consulted on the issues to find achievable goals. The cooperation and relations between companies and government are perhaps closer than in the U.S.

Some countries have reservations about emissions trading schemes, but few would go so far as the Dutch environmental minister, Magaretha de Boer: “That’s not something that belongs to our [European] culture.”(3)

Many find it easier to deal with a “simpler solution” – such as government regulations, than with setting up a world-wide trading scheme which needs more organizational preparation (and innovative thinking).The feeling in Europe is that the U.S. first has to do more to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases, since the U.S. is the biggest CO2 emitter in the world in absolute terms. The U.S. is still perceived as an economy which wastes energy in production and especially in its consumption patterns.

During the latest negotiations in Bonn, the EU-countries stuck to their proposal of a 15 percent reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 level by the year 2010, they also insist that industrial countries reduce their emissions immediately and under regulatory conditions.


Canada used to be one of the leading advocates for a treaty on the reduction of greenhouse gases. During the Rio summit in 1992, Canada was one of the mediators that brought the different positions together in a voluntary agreement; but now Canada’s position is not so forthright. The Canadian government is expected to propose an extension of the deadline from the year 2000 to the year 2012 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 levels, to the year 2012, but it will probably ask for a sharper reduction after the year 2012. The reluctance of the Canadian government to commit itself to sharp emissions reductions was heavily criticized by environmental groups as inadequate, while industries and opponents of an agreement think that drastic action could seriously damage the slowly recovering economy. The government has also not yet announced how it expects to achieve the emission targets; it is estimated that Canada’s emissions of CO2 have increased around 11 per cent between 1990 and 1996.(4)


Other countries argue that the model for differentiated targets should also apply to other countries, not just EU members. For example, Australia argues that there should be individual levels for every country considering its specific situation. The level should be determined by numbers like the projected population growth, GDP per capita, emission intensity of GDP, energy intensity of exports, etc.

Australia is resisting a big reduction in the emissions level, which would have a devastating effect on a country that is a big coal exporter and also relies on coal for domestic energy use. Australia supports the idea of a tradable permit system with some reservations, especially about the initial distribution of permits and the huge transfers of wealth.


Special focus is directed at Japan. As the host nation it is under pressure to do more than others to insure that there will be some agreement in Kyoto. The Japanese government announced its position a few weeks ago, proposing a 5 percent reduction of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions below the 1990 emissions level in industrial countries on average in the years 2008-2012. The proposal also allows exemptions and different measurements including GDP, projected development of population number and emissions per capita, which could mean an actual reduction of only 2.5 percent for the US and Japan.

Japan was criticized by the EU and environmentalists for its position, but the government defends its proposal saying the EU’s goal is unrealistic and the government’s proposals would already mean Japan would need 20 new nuclear power plants added to the already existing 52, (increasingly in the news in recent month for scandals involving the non-disclosure of accidents to the public). Internally Japan is divided between the position of the powerful Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) which is lobbying for lower emissions cut backs, while the Environmental Agency supports higher reductions of emissions.

Japan depends heavily on oil imports, and to increase the share of other energy sources is extremely difficult, especially for nuclear power after the recent scandals involving serious accidents. And Japan has already achieved a high degree of energy efficiency; therefore, the amount of energy that could be saved through new measures is limited. Japan like most of the other industrial countries, will not be able to stabilize its emissions to its 1990 level until the year 2000; its emissions of CO2 will probably have increased by about 6 percent from the 1990 level by the year 2000.(5)

Developing Countries

Developing countries are a diverse group of countries, from countries like China and India, which might soon became the biggest CO2 emitters, to small African countries with little industrial basis. They therefore hold different opinions on the issue, but they all seem to reject the notion that developed countries dictate them to cut emissions. They rightly argue that most of the emissions in the past came from industrial countries during their industrial development, and developing countries just want to have the same right for economic development for their people. They also insist that the emissions per capita is only a fraction of the emissions by industrial countries.

On the other hand, some industrial countries, in particular the U.S., want developing countries to be included in any agreement they reach, because these countries will increase their emissions drastically in the next decades. Also, industrial countries fear that stricter environmental regulations and increasing costs at home will drive more industries to relocate production to developing countries. This is already happening, but additional costs for CO2 emissions could accelerate this process.

The developing countries strongly oppose the pressure from the industrial countries to accept any restrictions. They fear for their potential for future development, and the words “Ecological Imperialism” are often heard. To expect that countries such as China would be participating in an international permit trading system in the near future seems unrealistic. These countries might be willing to accept foreign investment for cleaner technology for their utility plants and other industry but they probably will not accept any cap on their energy use.

Participation in an international emissions trading system would pose more technical and organizational problems for developing countries than it would for developed countries, such as lack of modern communication, technology to monitor companies, the setting up of markets, and many more.

Another danger may be that if energy prices in these countries would rise, more and more people would be driven away from market products, for example, people who can no longer afford kerosene for cooking will turn to non-market sources such as collecting fire wood. This sometimes leads to even more damage to already fragile ecosystems.

In the latest negotiations the developing countries, represented by the G-77, suggested a reduction of emissions from the industrial countries to 35 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020; in addition, the developing countries would receive financial compensation from industrial countries if exports from developing countries would be hurt by the climate change policy of the industrial world. In case the industrial countries would not meet the targets they would have to pay penalties to the less-developed countries. In contrast, the developing countries would be under no obligation to reduce their emissions.

Alliance of Small Island States

This association of smaller island states pushes for drastic reductions in CO2 emissions of 20 percent from the 1990 level by the year 2005. The governments of these islands fear that they would be particular hard hit in case global warming would occur, since their low luying countries would be especially vulnerable to possible rising sea-levels.


The OPEC countries are not particularly keen on an agreement that would reduce the demand for their main export product -oil- if industrial countries use less oil for their production and consumption prices and thereby revenues for OPEC countries would fall. They therefore demand that in case an agreement is reached on the reduction of CO2 emissions, their countries should be financially compensated for the possible loss in revenues; otherwise they would not sign any agreement. The idea that countries like the U.S. or Western Europe would compensate countries like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait for their loss is politically unthinkable.

Outlook on the Negotiations

The success of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto will depend on the ability to find an agreement on an emission target for CO2 and for the other so-called greenhouse gases, since most of the countries now accept legally binding emissions caps.

There are still big gaps between some of the proposals especially between the EU proposal of 15% reduction by 2010 and the US proposal of reaching the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012. In the last preparation meeting in Bonn (Germany) before the conference, the delegates tried to find as much common ground as possible before going into the Kyoto conference, but it turned out that most of the difficult issues are still unresolved. The EU and the U.S. are still far apart in their positions and it is not clear if one of them will show any willingness to give on its position. The question of participation of developing countries is also still unresolved, since most of the industrial countries seem willing to exempt developing countries from the emissions reduction process -at least for a while. On the other side, the U.S. delegation wants some reassurance that developing countries will join the agreement at some point in the future. The U.S. delegation would probably like to see some sort of timetable that it could then present to the Senate, which sees the participation of developing countries as a precondition for approval of a treaty.

The developing countries do not seem willing to participate in the reduction process as long as their standards of living are much lower than in the industrial countries. Some countries which were exempt at the Rio summit, but are not developing countries, such as Argentina, seem prepared to join a treaty in some form. Less-developed countries might be persuaded to reduce future emissions if industrial countries would compensate them for the economic loss they would endure. The question is, are industrial countries prepared to commit themselves to transfer large sums of money when that aid budgets are already cut back, and if they already fear economic losses due to the reduction of their own emissions?

Developing countries might be given long time-lags before they have to join in, and perhaps the most dangerous development could be that especially smaller developing countries as well as small developed countries could be pressured into an agreement. There is the potential that the threat of trade sanctions would become a “means of persuasion” for countries to join such an agreement, perhaps supported by boycotts organized by influential environmental groups from big industrial countries. For example, Paul H. Nitze, former American chief negotiator at the Geneva arms negotiations and now a member of the Environmental Defense Fund, suggested in a recent newspaper article that in case of a tradable budget system, participating countries could be deterred from violating the agreement through inspections by an international agency (just as it is done by the International Atomic Energy Agency) and possible sanctions or embargoes could be imposed on these countries by the UN security council, such as is done under nuclear weapons treaties. This might be technically possible, but CO2 emissions are not weapons and to punish a country for producing too much CO2 (because companies want to provide products for their customers) as if it had produced atomic weapons seems unwise.

Such actions would be a threat to free trade with enormous damage to the world economy, and once started, the erosion of world trade could increase very quickly.

1. Many economists like the idea of a permits trading system because of its cost-saving advantage, especially in comparison to a command-and-control policy.

2. Department of Energy (1997), “Scenarios of U.S. Carbon Reductions -Potential Impacts of Energy Technologies by 2010,” released September 25, 1997.

3. Cited by The Economist, June 14, 1997, p. 89.

4. Scott Morrison, (1997), “Canada buckles on greenhouse targets,” in Financial Times November 5, 1997, p.4.

5. Source: International Energy Agency cited by The Economist, June 28th 1997, p. 41.


A study completed in August 1997 shows a severe economic impact on the people of Texas if the Clinton Administration commits to a global climate change treaty to restrict energy use in the United States.

The study, The Impact of Potential Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits on the People and Economy of Texas, was prepared by Glenn R. Schleede for the National Consumer Coalition under the auspices of Consumer Alert.*

The study focuses on one state, Texas, and identifies the potential costs that might be imposed on the people of Texas as a result of measures to force or encourage reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2.

The U.S. is expected to make commitments at the UN Climate Change meeting in Kyoto, Japan, this December to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The treaty negotiations have attracted little public attention because most people seem to think that the commitments will only affect big business.

In fact, the U.S. negotiators’ commitment to set binding targets and timetables to restrict emissions will affect every individual, family, organization and community in the U.S.: either because less energy will be available or the prices of energy will rise dramatically.

The effects across the country will vary in the level of severity, with a greater impact on those states that are heavily dependent on the use of fossil fuels for energy production.

The Impact on People in Texas

Texas would be particularly hard hit by emission reductions because coal, oil, and natural gas (the fossil fuels) supply 96.2 percent of the total energy needs in Texas. Average per capita energy consumption in Texas in 1994 was 65.2 percent higher than the national average, largely because of the state’s energy-intensive industrial and agricultural activities.

In this study of global climate policies’ impact on Texans, various taxes on energy resources are used as “proxies” to estimate a range of costs that might be borne by Texas consumers resulting from proposed emission reduction approaches.

Using taxes as proxies recognizes that the Administration may propose or accept other measures, such as an international emissions trading scheme. However, such measures will have similar impacts as they would require major changes or reductions in U.S. energy use, force large increases in energy costs, and have other adverse impacts on the U.S. economy.

Among the adverse effects that various alternative measures and tax proxies could have on Texas people are the following:

  • Texas would be forced to reduce its 85 percent dependence on coal and natural gas to generate electricity. Yet economical, alternative sources of energy are not available in Texas and are not likely to become available in the near future. Thus, the likely result would be a forcing up of electricity prices for all electricity customers, including residential customers.
  • Emission reduction measures — considered separately — would cause Texans’ electric bills to increase annually by 10.3 percent to 48.4 percent.
  • Tax increases of $.50 per gallon on motor fuels will cause an increase of 43.5 percent in motor fuel costs, adding $285 per year to each Texan’s tax payment flowing to Washington. A $1.00 per gallon tax would raise motor fuel costs 87 percent resulting in an outflow of $570 per person annually.
  • The added annual cost and dollar outflow to Washington for a Texas family of four would average $1,140 for a $.50 per gallon motor fuel tax and $2,280 for a $1 per gallon tax.
  • The annual cost per household would be $491 under a $100 per metric ton carbon tax (a tax on carbon associated with utilities= use of coal to generate electricity); that cost would double with a $200 per metric ton carbon tax.

  • Texans would see an added annual outflow of their dollars to Washington ranging from $1.7 billion to $11 billion as a result of the tax alternatives considered in this study.

  • Higher costs for electricity and motor fuels hit most individuals and households directly and take a larger portion of their after-tax income. Since per capita personal income and disposable income in Texas are lower than the national average, and, in particular, lower than states along the East and West coasts, people in Texas will be harder hit than residents in those regions.

  • Older people and others living on fixed incomes are especially vulnerable to energy cost increases; in Texas, 10.2 percent of the population in 1994 was 65 or older.

  • Higher costs for energy, through taxes or other mechanisms, mean that fewer dollars would be available for Texans’ other needs C food, clothing, shelter, medical needs, education, purchases of appliances and household goods, savings, and insurance.

* Glenn R. Schleede is president of Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc., a consulting practice on energy and related environmental and economic issues. Mr. Schleede previously was vice president of New England Electric System and president of New England Energy Incorporated. In Washington, Mr. Schleede served as executive associate director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, senior vice president of the National Coal Association and associate director (Energy and Science) of the White House Domestic Council. He has held career service positions with OMB and with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

The National Consumer Coalition, organized by Consumer Alert, is an on-going educational coalition of 24 public policy groups that are committed to the consumer value of a market-economy in providing consumer choice, competition, and advances in technology that improve the health and safety of consumers. Consumer Alert is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer group, with individual members in all 50 states, which focuses on public policy issues and consumer education.

CO2 Effects on Ocean Currents

Researchers Thomas F. Stocker and Andreas Schmitter, using a simplified, three-basin zonally averaged circulation model, coupled to a simple energy-balance model of the atmosphere, have shown that CO2 levels as well as the rate of increase may have an effect on the “thermohaline” circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. Known as the “ocean conveyer belt,” this current is a “gigantic overturning motion” which pushes warm surface waters to the north giving off heat then sinking and returning to the south as cold water at a depth of 2 km.

The computer model showed that an increase of CO2 to 750 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in the next 100 years would permanently shut down the circulation. The model also showed that if the CO2 concentration of 750 ppmv were reached more slowly it would slow but not shut down the circulation. The current, caused by temperature and salinity, may respond adversely to large injections of freshwater that may occur from greater rainfall in the northern latitudes, as has been predicted by General Circulation Models. Deep ocean sediments suggest that when the thermohaline circulation has broken down in the past it caused cold spells in Europe which lasted for hundreds of years (“Influence of CO2 emission rates on the stability of the thermohaline circulation,” Nature, August 28, 1997).

The model used, however, has some problems. In an editorial comment on the research Stefan Rahmstorf pointed out that “. . . a simple model like this cannot be expected to make accurate quantitative predictions. The key result of their study lies not in exact numbers, it is in the principle that the rate at which greenhouse-gas concentrations increase is crucial for the stability of the ocean circulation.” Rahmstorf later concludes, “Climate models are still too coarse to accurately predict how vulnerable the ocean circulation is, but they suggest that crossing a critical limit is within the range of possibilities for the next century” (“Risk of sea-change in the Atlantic,” Nature, August 28, 1997).

China May Benefit From Climate Change

Environmentalists have long decried the possible detrimental effects of climate change on the developing countries. Some Chinese scientists, however, believe that climate change could hold many benefits for their country.

Ren Zhenqiu, research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, for example, argues that a warmer climate would cause the prevailing westerly summer wind to move further inland bringing more rainfall, improving agriculture yields in previously drought plagued areas.

Zhang Piyuan, professor of the Institute of Geography under the Academy of Sciences, using archives from the Palace Museum, found that agriculture output was higher during the warm period between 1750 – 1790 than during the cold period between 1841 – 1890.

Ren noted that the world’s four major civilizations appeared one after the other during earth’s warm state 6,000 to 4,000 years ago. North China was warm and damp and covered with forests and the desert existed primarily in the remote west. Furthermore, natural disasters were less frequent during the warm periods. Ren concludes, “Warm periods are the economically and culturally prosperous periods of mankind. . . . Desertification is caused by global cold, a severe environment, along with man-created sabotage. The natural factor is essential.” According to a book by Cambridge University, the decline of China’s Ming Dynasty corresponds to the arrival of colder weather and frequent natural disasters.

Ren believes that “The influence from both artificial and natural factors should be equally stressed. . . . It has not been determined as to which is the main reason leading to the climate change – natural influence or greenhouse effect.” He concludes, “I only hope that scholars do not merely stress the disadvantage of warming climate like the convention.” The article, “The Benefits of Climate Change? China’s Take on Global Warming,” can be found at


Gore’s Hard Sell

A focus group study of homeowning, college graduates in Bethesda, Md. conducted by The Alliance to Save Energy, showed that the global warming scare may be a hard sell to the American public. The following is reported in the Wall Street Journal (August 26, 1997). “During a discussion the skeptics tended to convince others that climatic change wasn’t happening while an incredulous moderator looked on. Cynicism about government played a larger role.

Participant 1: “But of course it [global warming] gives them [scientists] more grant money to keep up their jobs, to keep doing that type of research.”

Moderator: “So it is a political agenda?

Participant 2: “Yes, it is.”

Participant 1: “I think some of it is.”

Participant 3: “If I’m watching TV, and I hear about [global warming], I laugh at it. Or I don’t worry about it.”

IPCC’s Political Summary

In a letter to Nature (January 11, 1996) Michael Grubb, Lead Author, Working Group III of the IPCC, wrote, “The ‘Policymakers’ Summary’ is not a technical summary. Although usually drafted by the experts to put all key findings ‘on the table’, the final text represents a painstakingly negotiated statement of what governments officially accept as a balanced account of the state of knowledge and reasoned judgement, based on the chapters. Governments cannot alter the chapters, and the authors cannot alter the Policmakers’ Summary.”

The Costs of Renewable Energy

For years environmentalists have touted renewable energy as a way to wean mankind from fossil fuels, clean the air, and avert global climate change. The federal government has spent billions of dollars subsidizing renewable energy, and the Clinton administration has suggested further development of renewable energy technology as a way to meet emission targets that may be negotiated at the Kyoto conference. It’s a nice theory, but a new study by Robert L. Bradley, Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research, shows that renewable energy is very costly and environmentally suspect.

The study, “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’,” published by the Cato Institute, shows that on average electricity produced at renewable energy plants is twice as expensive as electricity produced by the most economical fossil-fuel alternative and triple the cost of surplus electricity. Moreover, renewable energy has many hidden environmental costs. Wind and solar farms take 100 times more space than fossil-fuel plants to produce the same amount of energy. Wind farms are also noisy and kill birds. It has been estimated that wind farms in California are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of golden eagles and other raptors. Also, Bradly notes that the material-intensive manufacture of wind and solar facilities increase air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the short run.

The report is available at pas/pa-280es.html or by calling Dave Quast at 202-789-5266.

Homes or Cars?

Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has projected that in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 Japan must reduce energy consumption by 50 million kiloliters of crude oil. This is roughly equivalent to the energy consumption of all Japanese households in 1995 or fuel consumption by Japanese motor vehicles that year (Asia Pulse, August 28, 1997).

“Slouching Towards Kyoto” from Down Under

The two most influential lawmakers in Congress on climate change issues traveled half way around the world to the capital of Australia to assail the climate treaty being readied for Kyoto.

“Let me make it very clear,” stated Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), “I believe we are headed down the wrong path in the negotiations for any global climate treaty to be signed in Kyoto, Japan, this December.” Hagel is chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on International Economic Policy, which has jurisdiction over international environmental treaties that come to the chamber for ratification. “In its current form, the global climate treaty would face a resounding defeat in the United States Senate” he told his audience, a conference entitled “Countdown to Kyoto,” sponsored by the Australian APEC Study Center and the Arlington, Virginia-based Frontiers of Freedom Institute.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), ranking member of the House Commerce Committee, assured the conference that Republicans are not alone in their misgivings: “We may be slouching towards Kyoto with only the barest appreciation of what we are doing and how it will affect us.”

The Canberra conference was attended by prominent Australian officials, who are watching closely both the White House negotiating stance and the Senates reaction to it. Australia, a major coal exporter, also depends on fossil fuels for 94 percent of its energy supplies. The Australian government has already expressed staunch opposition to the European Unions proposal for binding emissions targets. In his address to the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer stated that “we are going to need some growth in our emissions above 1990 levels.”

Greenpeace led a protest against the conference in which 20 demonstrators were arrested. The activists are hoping to salvage a treaty which, in Sen. Hagels judgment, “has the potential of bringing under direct international control virtually every aspect of a nations economy.”

Australia Courts Japan, Attacks Germany; Germany and Japan Get Together

Australias federal government has asked Japan to join them in opposing binding greenhouse gas emission limits. Australia is supporting a policy of differentiation where each country would agree to voluntary limits based on its marginal cost of abatement. Australias Primary Industries Minister, John Anderson, argues that “Our economic analysis shows that it is in both Australia and Japans interests to stand firm against global pressure and oppose binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in Kyoto.”

Anderson argues that Australia is well positioned to meet Japans future massive increases in energy demand: “Over the next decade, Australia should emerge as easily the biggest supplier of primary energy to Japan. . . . We must be able to convince Japan that we can, and will, remain a reliable, competitive and secure supplier” (AAP Newsfeed, August 27, 1997).

Meanwhile, Australias Foreign Minister Alexander Downer accused Germany of pushing an international campaign to isolate Australia: “Its unfair for people from Germany to ask Australia to sacrifice more jobs and more living standards than they themselves are prepared to sacrifice,” Downer said. “The European Union is asking us to make a grossly unfair contribution. . .we completely reject that.”

Downer argues that setting binding greenhouse gas limits on industrial countries will cause energy intensive industries to move to the developing world. “What people in Germany dont seem to have grasped is that if you close down energy industries in environmentally sensitive Australia they will move abroad to countries less sensitive” (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, August 29, 1997).

Germany and Japan, however, have signed an agreement on environmental cooperation. The two countries agreed to exchange personnel and information and hold seminars to discuss greenhouse gas abatement strategies, prevention of ozone destruction and conserving endangered species. They will also set up a joint committee which will meet once a year (AP Worldstream, August 26, 1997).

Scientists Feel Political Pressure

An article in the Financial Times (London, August 28, 1997) begins, “Leading scientists are expected to respond today to pressure from politicians to clarify the threat of climate change to specific parts of the world.” Roger Newsom, head of climate modelling for the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), stated, “Theres a lot of pressure,” on the scientists to “clarify and specify what action must be taken so we can . . . give better answers on mans effect on climate.”

The U.S. Senate has opposed a treaty that would cause economic harm to the U.S. especially when the scientific evidence for climate change is so sparse. Michael Grubb, a member of the IPCC, urged politicians to “grow up and understand that we are dealing with uncertainty. . . Nobody in their right mind thinks uncertainty means do nothing.”

In a statement at the end of the meeting the WCRP called for more political support to further its future work on global warming. G.O. Obasi, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said, “I believe the time has come for all nations to heed the advice of the scientific community and to allocate more resources to global monitoring, research, and the important activities being provided by the national meteorological and hydrological services. It is a small investment to make to ensure the future safety and well-being of our planet” (BNA Daily Environment Report, September 2, 1997). Is it any surprise that when politicians ask scientists what must be done about global warming, their answer is give us more money?

Senators to Track Developments in Kyoto

Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has appointed twelve senators to monitor the upcoming talks in Kyoto, Japan in December. Named to the Global Climate Change Observer Group are Sens. Spence Abraham (R-Mich), Max Baucus (D-Mont), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Robert Byrd (D-WVa), John Chafee (R-RI), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John Kerry (D-Mass), Carl Levin (D-Mich), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn), Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan). The senators will report periodically to Sen. Lott on the negotiations (BNA Daily Environment Report, August 29, 1997).