December 1997

COP-3 in Kyoto is the culmination of earlier summits the Rio Conference in 1992, the implementation of energy curtailment policies starting at COP-1 in Berlin, and the further refinement of those policies at COP-2 in Geneva. (These people really know how to pick conference sites.) All these meetings produced ambiguous documents. Was it Will Rogers who stated: America has rarely lost a war or won a treaty?

The ambiguities are now coming back to haunt us. At Rio, the US and other developed nations promised to curtail energy use ‘voluntarily’ by large amounts. COP-1 and COP-2 moved these agreements along. The original agreement wasnt clear about the responsibilities of the developing nations, but the Berlin agreement promised the developing world that they faced no commitments.

Now in Kyoto, only a handful of nations have met their commitments. Katie McGinty, Al Gores acolyte in the White House, complained that our failure wasnt the Administrations fault — the Congress had failed to provide adequate subsidies for green technologies, our economy had grown too fast, and energy prices were too low.

Possibly worried that the Administration might try to resolve these problems, the U.S. Senate passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution which says that the U.S. will impose no further pain on the U.S. economy unless the major developing nations also sign up for energy conservation. Other nations are also realizing that an All Pain, No Gain carbon withdrawal plan is wrong-headed.

As a result, Kyoto is engaged in a desperate attempt to square the circle. Creative rhetoric to paper over the massive disagreements has proliferated. Language ranging from evolution to play are being introduced to suggest gradual, painless Third World commitments. New Zealand negotiators proposed that Third World nations agree to binding commitments sometime after 2012 but only if the developed nations had made progress by then. Third World spokesman rejected these ideas very quickly.

The poorer nations seem aware even if the U.S. is not that there are real costs of curtailing energy use. A Chinese delegate likened these proposals to a cartoon — a top-hatted gentlemen approaches a peasant cooking an open-fire meal and asks him to extinguish the fire to prevent global warming. He noted that the developed world might wish to reduce luxury emissions but that China was not about to reduce subsistence emissions. How ironic. China is more concerned with poverty than the US!

If the Chinese remain steadfast, the implications for Senate ratification are obvious.

Turnabout is fair play

Street Theatre is an important element of public policy and an element generally dominated by the Greens. Today, the arena was broadened considerably. Friends of the Earth (FOE) conducted an NGO poll to select the worst environmental offender. They then ceremonially delivered this Scorched Earth Award to the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an industry NGO. A bowl of burnt soil was delivered to the industry groups headquarters, representing the greens fear that we are burning up the earth. The GCC swiftly threw away this dubious award.

But a symbol is a horrible thing to waste; thus, a contrarian coalition came together under the banner of ‘Friends of Humanity.’ Opposed to energy use restrictions under the climate treaty, the heavily outnumbered coalition teamed CEI with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), Eagle Forum, and Sovereignty International. Friends of Humanity ‘recycled’ the award, renamed it the Scorched Economy Award, and delivered it it back to FOE. This time, the bowl was filled with Japanese Yen coins — symbolizing the costs of a Kyoto global warming treaty.

Against the backdrop of a large anti-climate treaty banner, the coalition took the opportunity to extol science, technology, and economic progress, and denounced the climate treaty. Believing that energy benefits humanity, the pro-energy coalition expressed the hope that the Scorched Economy Award would compel FOE and other anti-energy groups to reconsider.

An official of Friends of the Earth-International graciously accepted the Scorched Economy Award. Along with a World Wide Fund for Nature colleague, he began a heated exchange with the pro-energy advocates on the merits of the climate treaty. The press corps seemed to delight in excitement. At the proper dramatic moment, the two sides agreed to continue their comments in a formal debate. CEI and CFACT vs. FOE and WWF in the Match of the Century! Next Tuesday, December 9.

WASHINGTON, DC — The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) and the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) today announced that more than 500 physicians and scientists have signed an open letter to world leaders opposing the climate change treaty now being negotiated in Kyoto, Japan. The text of the letter is:

“As responsible members of the scientific and medical communities, we support efforts to improve the global environment and public health.

“Given that economic prosperity is necessary for a cleaner environment and improved public health, action that harms the global and national economies should not be taken without compelling evidence of need.

“At this time, we believe the scientific understanding of the global climate is inadequate to justify drastic control policies and needs to be better developed to support limiting greenhouse gas emissions – limitations that would damage the economic well-being of most of the world’s population.

“We recommend the world’s governments defer taking action on a climate change protocol until the science shows limiting greenhouse gas emissions will benefit, not harm, the global environment and public health.”

Commenting on this expression of concern about the climate treaty, TASSC executive director Steven J. Milloy said “This letter has been in circulation only a short time. We are overwhelmed by the strength of the response and will continue to accept signatures. World leaders assembled in Kyoto should heed this call to avoid rash and harmful action on greenhouse gas emissions.”

TASSC and ESEF are not-for-profit organizations of scientists, former public policy officials and others interested in the use of sound science in public policy. TASSC is located at 1155 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036. ESEF is located at 4 Church Lane, Barton, Cambridge, CB3 7BE, United Kingdom.

Copies of the signed letters are available for inspection in the TASSC office.

Many at COP-3 are behaving as if the Clinton-Gore administration speaks for the U.S — as if the eager quest for an aggressive global energy restriction treaty was the goal of most Americans. Fortunately, while Clinton and Gore do indeed represent one element of the American polity, they do not speak for the American people. Under the US Constitution, powers are divided and the US Congress has a separate but equal voice on policy matters. Before any treaty becomes law, the US Senate must advise and consent. Before any new funds are spent, the House and the Senate must both concur. While the “emerging consensus” at Kyoto is warming the hearts of Administration officials, it is getting a cool reception from US legislators.

US Senators attending COP-3 are getting hot under the collar at what they consider irresponsible negotiating by Clinton-Gore officials, which may result in harsher energy restrictions for the US economy than for its Third World trading partners. Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming described the Kyoto conference as “an economic meeting disguised as an environmental meeting,” reports Bonner Cohen of the Earth Times. A disbelieving Sen. Enzi mocked the entire conference as “a Chinese plot to restrict the growth of the American economy,” noting the People’s Republic of China’s flat refusal to join the UN’s incipient global energy rationing regime.

Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, of Byrd-Hagel resolution fame, is similarly perturbed. In his view, the Clinton-Gore administration is not paying sufficient attention to the issue of national sovereignty. Nor are the negotiators in Kyoto paying heed to the formidable scientific evidence against the global warming hypothesis (in fact, they are doing their best to suppress open and honest scientific debate).

It doesn’t help matters that the US State Department seems to be going out of its way to antagonize American legislators. One example: environmental activist Curtis Moore, former aide to the late Senator Ed Muskie, asked why the Administration was not pushing for even more aggressive energy reduction targets. He provided an excuse – he understood how hard it was to take the correct stands when reactionary legislators such as Senator Hagel were looking over their shoulders. Moore went on to note that, although he intended no disrespect, Senator Hagel had received some $70,000 in contributions from energy companies. The Administration’s respondent dodged the substantive question but made no attempt to address the attack on the senator’s integrity.

Should the Kyoto treaty ever make its way to Washington’s Capitol Hill, expect it to face serious scrutiny.

We’re Already Feeling the Kyoto Chill

Reporters, delegates, NGOs, and other climate conference participants are already experiencing what life will be like on an energy starvation diet. In keeping with the fanaticism of the occasion, the thermostat of the Kyoto conference hall has been turned WAY down. Outside, three penguin ice carvings still stand, placed there by greens who planned for the ice birds to melt in the “warming” climate. Mother Nature is obviously not cooperating for the television cameras. The politically-incorrect air in Kyoto is positively cold. Shivering conference-goers are walking around with coats, scarves, even gloves – indoors. Hasn’t anybody at the UN considered the human health effects of under-heated facilities? People of the world, this is your future if the global warming lobby gets its way.

Seizing the Moment

Debate is severely muted at Kyoto – not surprisingly given the large number of true believers who are leading this Green Children’s Crusade. There are, of course, discussion meetings among the various NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and today we free market environmentalists tried to enter a meeting to present our views. Despite the clear notice that this was a “public” meeting of environmental NGOs, we were politely but firmly ejected.

Believing that All Things should be Considered, we have elected to mount our own seminar. We’re titling it “A Contrarian Briefing on Global Warming Policy” and have pulled together a scratch team from among the tiny number of contrarians attending the conference: Science and Environmental Policy Project’s Fred Singer on the scientific issues; the Hoover Institution’s Thomas Gale Moore on the beneficial aspects of global warming; Mark Kirk of the House International Relations Committee on the politics of the climate talks; Charles River Associates’ David Montgomery on the economic costs of carbon withdrawal; CEI’s Fred Smith on climate change prevention versus adaptation/resiliency. We’ve invited the entire press corps to the event – and expect lots of hostile questions.

A Word from Our Sponsors

Let it never be said that CEI’s efforts in Kyoto have gone unnoticed. On one of our shivering tours of the chilly halls of the conference center, we happened upon a draft report listing the “Forces of Darkness” and found — yes, you guessed it, our name. A bit unfair since we’re the ones who believe in keeping the light bulbs of the world burning brightly. Then again, objective fairness was never meant to be the hallmark of the Kyoto Conference. The draft described the “infamous” CEI as no friend of the earth, and even accused us technophiles of advocating “junk” science. Worse, it implied that we are advancing “climate confusionism” – could this be the application of ancient Eastern philosophy to the issue of global warming?

All of this recalls the story told by Mark Twain of the individual who was tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Asked later about the event, he stated: “Well, if it hadn’t have been for the honor, I would rather have walked.” Still, this incident does suggest that civility is quickly vanishing from what was already a fierce intellectual debate. The Kyoto global warming lobby clearly views the climate treaty as offering its best hope of erecting a global regulatory apparatus with real power over the world economy. The environmentalist establishment will fight fiercely to ensure that its goal is realized.

COP-3 opened as a Victorian drama, with the U.S. position in imminent peril as its prime defender, Undersecretary of State Tim Wirth, suddenly abandoned the fray and rushed off to make some “real” money. Still the U.S. team blustered on, railing against the binding energy restrictions demanded by the hard-line environmental zealots, yet still seeking to gain the approval of the virtuous environmental “maiden.” How, they complained, can we reconcile the protection of our planet with the need to safeguard the sovereignty and economy of the United States? As demanded by such plots, the U.S. and the EU publicly quarreled, accusing each other of blocking consensus! The U.S. team issued the expected symbolic threat – If the world doesnt respect our position, we will withdraw from negotiations.

But, as is the case with such conventional dramas, the abundance of such symbolic smoke is fully consistent with the absence of any reality of fire. The prologue and opening acts of the Kyoto drama were little more than the posturing so typical of past international negotiations. The Kyoto players have never really been in serious disagreement; everyone agrees that voluntary arrangements have “failed” (read: the market doesnt seem to respond the way the politicians and their environmental allies would like) and therefore we must do “something.” As long as that something strengthens political control of the energy economy, the details can be nuanced. Thus, a Kyoto treaty which gives each side something has always been in the cards.

When Vice President Al Gore arrives next week, expect the traditional “surprise” ending. The politicians will save the Kyoto Treaty at the last possible minute and will take their bows as the curtain comes down on a world dedicated to increased political control of energy use. The business villains, once again, will have been vanquished.

Thus, expect phrases such as “limited, carefully bounded differentiation” to emerge as the key elements of the New Global Order. Such phrases have become the Universal Solvent needed to dissolve away all negotiating difficulties. The concept makes it possible for all nations to agree to “tight” controls while preserving the “flexibility” needed to do whatever they would have done in any event.

The global environmental establishment will complain that all this is too little, too late, but the fact is they will have gained much. The Clinton-Gore team will have gained vast powers over the domestic energy sector – in effect, nationalizing this critical sector of the U.S. economy — giving the U.S. federal government effective control over 7.5 percent of U.S. GDP. They will use this power creatively.

This Strategy Finesses Compliance with the Byrd-Hagel Resolution

To date, the Byrd-Hagel resolution (passed in the U.S. Senate 95-0) constitutes the only formal effort by conservative and business interests to restore reality to the Kyoto drama. Under this provision, the U.S. cannot enter into any agreement that would impose “excess” costs on our economy or that would exempt the developing countries from incurring comparable costs. But, these restraints dissolve away under the “limited, carefully bounded differentiation” language emerging from Kyoto. Melinda Kimble, a key U.S. spokesman, still speaks fiercely of the need for “meaningful participation of key developing countries,” but that requirement is readily met in this new “differentiated” flexible world. Indeed, the newly coined approach of “evolution” in which such nations might be required to do nothing more than ensure the gradual reduction of normalized energy use in their nations (per capita, per dollar of GNP?) may greatly reduce the apparent costs of compliance by developing nations.

Still, policy does have implications. To sanction anti-energy use policies anywhere will have ramifications everywhere. If Kyoto leads to further energy restrictions in the U.S. the world will notice the impacts of declining economic and technological progress. Kyoto is all too likely to produce what CEI President Fred Smith terms “a baby step on the escalator to oblivion.”

Even such initial economic costs would likely exacerbate already troubling protectionist tendencies in the U.S. and elsewhere. Any effort by the U.S. to use the Kyoto Treaty to curtail energy would mobilize the business community into arguing for treaty enforcement via trade sanctions. David Montgomery, an economist with Charles River Associates, discussed this protectionist risk at the Competitive Enterprise Institutes Costs of Kyoto conference. He noted that the pressures and the tools for enforcing climate treaty measures will be trade — not environmentally — driven. Few outside the environmental establishment believes that trade wars will prove beneficial. In a world of “differentiated” compliance, the Byrd-Hagel resolution may well evolve into a new force for protectionism.

You Stay Poor, We Pile Up Credits

In the wake of Asian currency crises in South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Third World countries cannot possibly accept “equivalent” emissions reduction targets. Nearly everyone recognizes this reality, but few are willing to come to terms with it. With economic turmoil as a backdrop, the U.S. delegation came forward with another major “concession” — it will support Joint Implementation which promises financial credits to developing nations moving toward reduced energy use. But this suggests that Annex I countries would create new foreign aid and technology assistance programs for those developing nations willing to curtail carbon emissions. The end result: The Third World must go on welfare so the climate will stay cold.

Looking for a different point of view? Check these “contrarian” web sites:,

Contact: Fred Smith, tel. (81 75) 344 8888. For back issues of Kyoto Update, check out or call Emily McGee at (202) 331-1010.