October 2000

Countdown to COP-6

The Kyoto Protocols loose ends were supposed to be wrapped up at the sixth Conference of Parties to the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will meet in the Hague, Netherlands, November 13-24. It isnt looking that way now, and senior negotiators have started to play the lowering expectations game.

Whatever the outcome, several members of the Cooler Heads Coalition will be at COP-6 and will be sending back reports. Updates will be posted on the www.globalwarming.org and www.cei.org web sites.

IPCC Summary Leaked

The Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not due to be released until early 2001. But two weeks prior to the U. S. presidential election, a draft of the Summary for Policymakers was leaked to the press.

Major news outlets seized on the dramatic claims. The New York Times (October 28, 2000) reported that the IPCC “has now concluded that mankinds contribution to the problem is greater than originally believed,” and that, “Its worst-case scenario calls for a truly unnerving rise of 11 degrees F over 1990 levels.”

Vice President Al Gore immediately touted the leaked draft in his campaign speeches. “Unless we act, the average temperature is going to go up 10 or 11 degrees. The storms will get stronger. The weather patterns will change. But it does not have to happen, and it wont happen if we put our minds to solving the problem, and that is one of the reasons I am running for president,” said Gore (CNN Morning News, October 27, 2000).

The lack of media attention to the blatantly political motives in leaking the report was revealing, but so too was the uncritical acceptance of the Summary as a straightforward scientific document. Apparently, in their eagerness to support Gore, the TV networks and major newspapers conveniently forgot that the Summary for Policymakers that accompanied the Second Assessment Report was widely discredited as a political document that didnt reflect the scientific report itself.

It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that the TAR Summary is essentially a political document designed to scare waverers back to the true Kyoto faith. In a briefing paper, Kenneth Green, director of the Reason Public Policy Institutes environment program and a TAR technical reviewer, writes that, “Predictions of future changes rest upon speculative changes that were not reviewed by technical reviewers of the main report.”

Greens paper, Mopping up After the Leak, which is available on the RPPIs web site (www.rppi.org), continues: “The leaked Summary for Policymakers is not peer-reviewed, the author is anonymous, the document is created independently of the actual Assessment Report, and the Summary is so short that issues are overly simplified.”

Vincent Gray, a climate scientist in New Zealand, makes similar criticisms in e-mail comments. He also notes the following statement in the final draft version of the TAR: “The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late nineteenth century and that other trends have been observed does not mean that an anthropogenic effect on the climate system has been identified (chapter 1, page 15).” It is doubtful whether that statement will be reported by Dan Rather or appear in Al Gores campaign speeches.

European Union Blasts U. S. Congress

The European Unions parliamentary environment committee on October 16 adopted a resolution providing guidance to the EU Commission on the upcoming COP-6 negotiations in the Hague. In addition to calling on all parties to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and for an agreement to set a “legally binding global emissions ceiling” on greenhouse gases, the EU environment committee aimed harsh language at the U. S. Congress.

The resolution states, “The committee appeals to members of the US Senate and House of Representatives to drop their resistance to the principles agreed in Kyoto and to do justice to their responsibility to combat the greenhouse effect.” (The full text may be found at www2.europarl.eu.int/omk/OM.) No comments from members of Congress have been reported.

Australia Turning Against Kyoto

On October 25, Ray Evans of Melbourne, Australia spoke to a Cooler Heads Coalition meeting about the Australian political climate regarding the Kyoto Protocol. In 1997 at Kyoto, Australia agreed to a greenhouse gas target of 8 percent above 1990 levels. Business-as-usual scenarios estimate that by 2010 Australias emissions of greenhouse gases would be 45 percent above 1990 levels.

The federal government took the position that, “The Kyoto regime is inevitable, and that Australia should be amongst the very first countries to introduce a comprehensive carbon withdrawal regime, characterized by the sale of government permits at auction at regular intervals, and subsequent trading of those permits through the Sydney Futures Exchange,” according to Evans.

Although energy intensive industries grew concerned over the governments position, there was little overall dissent and the government proceeded to devise a carbon withdrawal system. However, recent events have raised the real possibility that no Australian government is likely to recommend ratification of Kyoto and that no future parliament is likely to ratify it.

Industry Minister Nick Minchin convinced the Howard government over Environment Minister Robert Hills objections to grant exemptions from Australias greenhouse gas obligations to multi-billion-dollar investments to expand natural gas production on the Northwest Shelf. (See page 4 article in the Age, September 23, 2000.)

According to Evans, “Thus for the first time the Government had to decide between carbon withdrawal on the one hand, and jobs and investment on the other. It decided for jobs. This precedent is of very great importance.”

Parliament is beginning to have grave doubts about the wisdom of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) is conducting “a wide-ranging review of Kyoto, including the scientific basis for global warming and carbon withdrawal, and for the first time back-bench parliamentarians are beginning to appreciate the extent of the economic damage which will hit Australia if legislation is passed introducing a carbon tax regime of the kind envisaged by the Australian Greenhouse Office.”

Labor Party parliamentarians who represent workers in energy intensive industries are beginning to balk at the idea of carbon withdrawal. “Once a key group within the opposition Labor Party becomes deeply concerned at the consequences of Kyoto, the prospect of any Australian Government ratifying Kyoto simply vanishes,” said Evans. “Questions now dominating the minds of the ALP [Australian Labor Party] members of JSCOT are about the mechanisms and consequences of withdrawal, in particular the possibility of trade sanctions being imposed on Australian exports.”

Coal Vote Split on Bush, Gore

The coal industry appears split over whom to support as the next president of the United States. Coal mining companies favor George W. Bush, while the coal miners union favors Al Gore. Ben Greene, chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association, doesnt believe there is anything Gore could say to convince the industry to support him. “He may come in and say, Im with Senator Byrd on money for clean coal technology, and weve got to protect our miners,” Greene said. “But if you look at Kyoto and you look at the book [Earth in the Balance] and you look at the Environmental Protection Agency in the last eight years, I dont take much comfort in any of that.”

The union has a different take, however. “Someone has suggested that George Bush is for coal miners,” said United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts. “There is a distinction to be made here. I do believe George Bush may be for coal companies, but he isnt for coal miners,” said Roberts. “Most important though to UMWA members, Mr. Gore has said that if he is elected president he will keep the promise to our retirees of health care benefits for life” (Charleston Gazette, October 27, 2000). Sounds like the real distinction is between working and retired coal miners.

Two recent polls, one by Ohio State University and the other by Rasmussen Research, now have Bush ahead of Gore in West Virginia (www.atinews.com). This suggests that Mr. Robertss view doesnt reflect that of many of his unions members.

McCain Introduces Bill

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced a bill to create an “International Climate Change Science Commission.” The bill would authorize the president of the United States “to negotiate an international agreement to establish an international commission comprised of scientists whose qualifications and experience qualifies them to conduct scientific, unbiased, politically and economically neutral assessments of global climate change, the factors involved in such change, the consequences of such change, and the potential effect of measures undertaken for the purpose of affecting global climate change.”

What McCain hopes to accomplish by this is unclear. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program were both created to accomplish this very goal. The problem is that both have been so thoroughly politicized that they have become harmful to the publics understanding of the scientific debate.

James Hansen, of NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies, recently published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which argued that CO2 may not have contributed as much to global warming as previously thought, but that the warming could be explained by other emissions, such as black carbon aerosols, methane, and ozone.

Hansens paper made a big splash in the media and received criticism from environmentalists who believed that it gave too much ammo to global warming skeptics who argue that theres no need to reduce CO2 emissions. Hansen has recently written an open letter (which appears to be nearly as long as the paper itself) to clarify what his paper said.

Hansen argues that his paper is merely an “alternative scenario” of how to reduce anthropogenic forcing to 1 Watt per meter squared (Wm-2) over the next 50 years. He derives his alternative scenario by noting that CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels induces a positive 1.4 Wm-2 climate forcing. This also produces a sulfate aerosol climate forcing of negative 1.4 Wm-2, which cancels out the CO2 forcing. Hansen then claims that what is left is a 1.4 Wm-2 climate forcing from other greenhouse gases.

Hansens scenario is to reduce forcing to 1 Wm-2 over the next fifty years, which requires, he is eager to point out, some reduction in CO2. But this begs the question, If CO2 forcing is completely cancelled by sulfate aerosol forcing, what then causes global warming? Hansens protestations aside, his paper clearly relegates CO2 to a non-factor in climate change. Only his arbitrary choice of a forcing target of 1 Wm-2 makes its reduction necessary.


The Greening Earth Society has just released a new book, The Greening of the American West, which features before and after photos of different locations in the American West showing changes in vegetation over the last 125 years. The book, authored by Craig and Keith Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, shows that vegetation has increased in several areas of the Western United States, which is attributed partly to the fertilizing effects of rising concentrations of CO2. Details on how to obtain the book can be found at www.greeningearthsociety.org.

Britain is still trying to deal with the general discontent among its citizens over high fuel taxes. It has been reported that Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown may propose gasoline tax cuts in his next budget. Conservative Party leader William Hague has already proposed a 3 pence per liter cut in gasoline taxes.

Environmental activists have complained about the proposed reductions. Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the governments new Sustainable Development Commission, accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of failing to convince the British populace of the merits of high gas taxes to fight global warming.

A column in the Daily Express (October 30, 2000), however, argues that fuel taxes do little to change fuel use. “Quite a few pence here or there will make hardly any difference to the amount of petrol consumed, particularly when our railways have never been in a worse position to offer a feasible alternative,” said editorialist Richard North. “Influencing the behavior of British motorists now will probably have much less impact on the worlds climate than even a skeptical public supposes.”

North points out that in 1994 the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution claimed that a doubling of gasoline prices would reduce the number of cars on the road. But, said North, “Petrol prices have more than doubled since 1990,” without reducing the number of automobiles. Indeed, “Weve seen continuing year-on-year increases in traffic,” says Britains Automobile Association.

“COP-6 Off to Shaky Start.” From the November 15 Cooler Heads newsletter.

Tech Central Station: cop 6.

Sovereignty International: Daily Reports from the Hague.

Earthtimes coverage – COP6.


International Institute for Sustainable Development: Earth Negotiations.

COP 6 Backgrounder from Weathervane.

EU Will Fall Short of Kyoto Target

A new study released by Ecofys and the Fraunhofer Institute says that the European Union will not meet its greenhouse reduction target under the Kyoto protocol that requires an 8 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. Indeed, the EUs emission levels will likely be in the range of 7 to 8 percent above 1990 levels at the target date.

An analysis of the greenhouse gas reduction plans of six EU countries found that only one, Britain, would likely reach its target. “Germany might also achieve its target, but France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands have no chance of getting their CO2 emissions down to the required levels unless they adopt new policies in the near future,” reported Reuters (October 18, 2000).

Corporations Form Global Warming Partnership

Seven major international corporations have joined with Environmental Defense to create the Partnership for Climate Action. The companies, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP, DuPont, Suncor Energy, Ontario Power Generation, and aluminum makers Alcan and Pechiney, have set a target for greenhouse gas reductions that would reduce emissions by 90 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year.

“The goal,” according to Environmental Defense executive director Fred Krupp, “is to share learning and highlight the value of solid, market-oriented rules, which will encourage even more companies to step forward and reduce pollution” (Reuters, October 18, 2000).

Computer Models Still Wrong

Early this year the National Research Council released a report that argued that there was still a major discrepancy between the satellite- and surface-based temperature data but that both datasets were essentially correct. This presented a major challenge for computer models, according to the study, since they predict a substantial warming in the atmospheric layer measured by satellites while the data show almost no warming.

A study in Science (February 18, 2000) by Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and his co-authors claimed to explain the discrepancy and to put the satellite data in accordance with the surface data, thereby claiming that computer model predictions of global warming were correct after all.

A new study in the Geophysical Research Letters (September 15, 2000) by University of Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger of New Hope Environmental Services takes issue with Santers findings. Santers study pointed out that computer models did not take into account the cooling influence of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. By including this factor, claimed Santer, computer models could account for the lack of warming, reducing the discrepancy to a statistically insignificant 0.045 degrees C.

The Michaels-Knappenberger study takes into account several other natural forcings that influence atmospheric temperatures, specifically the eruption of El Chichn in the early 1980s and El Nio. Taking these into account puts the discrepancy between model predictions and the observed temperature data at 0.162 degrees C or 360 percent the amount found by Santer, et al.

Michaels and Knappenberger conclude, “That current-generation GCMs [global circulation models] do not accurately reproduce the observed temperature history of the lower troposphere during the MSU [microwave sounding units] era remains unchallenged.” Moreover, “Until the GCMs can produce accurate representations of the known three-dimensional climate history, they cannot be relied upon to produce future scenarios that are accurate enough to serve as the basis for climate impact assessments.”

Long Term Sea Level Change

Are changes in sea level due to the emission of manmade greenhouse gases or are they due to natural fluctuations? According to two new studies in Marine Geology (163, 2000), they may be natural. According to the studies, the evidence suggests that sea levels have fallen significantly for the last 6,000 years. Moreover, from 6,000 to 600 years ago the researchers determined that sea levels fluctuated by as much as 1 meter while experiencing an overall decline.

What this means is that the earths ocean levels could be increasing due to natural oscillations that have nothing to do with global warming. This sea level behavior, according to the authors, is just as likely an explanation for current sea level rise as the global warming hypothesis.


With the unusual amount of press attention given to warmer than normal days, we feel it is our duty to point out when temperatures plunge below normal. The month of October has been unseasonably cool throughout the Southeastern U.S. and beyond. In fact, record low temperatures have been recorded in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Record low temperatures across the state of Tennessee lead meteorologist Mark Rose of the National Weather Service to comment that, “I dont know if Ive ever seen this many records in one day” (Associated Press, October 10, 2000).

Although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has held several press conferences over the last two years to associate global warming with every temperature spike, theyve remained silent during the current Southern cold snap. It has, however, come out with its winter forecast. “We’ve probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like. With La Nia and El Nio out of the way, normal winter weather has a chance to return to the U.S. this year,” meaning colder winters, according to D. James Baker, who heads the NOAA. Temperatures in the Northeast region of the U.S. could be as much as 4 degrees C below the previous three winters.

Bush Supports CO2 Controls

George W. Bushs comprehensive energy plan proposes a mandatory cap on emissions of CO2 for the nations electric utilities. In the October 11 presidential debate, he emphasized his support for the policy. “The electric decontrol bill that I fought for and signed in Texas has a mandatory emissions standards. And thats what we ought to do at the federal level when it comes to grandfathered plants for utilities.”

According to the Washington Times (October 17, 2000), Governor Bush opposes the Kyoto Protocol that would require a reduction of energy emissions of between 30 and 40 percent over the next 10 years. But, congressional sources are not pleased with Bushs position. Several members of Congress, including Representatives David McIntosh (R-Ind.), Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), and JoAnn Emerson (R-Mo.) have been fighting the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.

“Congress has never designated as a pollutant carbon dioxide, which is vital to sustain life on the Earth and is emitted by humans and other living organisms,” noted the Washington Times. “It has barred the Environmental Protection Agency from considering imposing restrictions on the gas to curb global warming.”

Loopholes Anger Activists

The Clinton-Gore Administration is trying to “solve global warming with their lawyers and with legal sleight of hand,” according to John Passacantando, director of Greenpeace, USA. “The Clinton Administration has been undermining the climate treaty for several years, insisting on one loophole after another to weaken it,” he said.

Environmental activists are angry at what they perceive as backpedaling by the administration. Three proposals in particular have them up in arms. First, the U.S. proposal to count as carbon sinks forests that absorb and retain carbon is seen as a cop out, which would allow U.S. companies to avoid emissions cuts. Environmentalists claim that under the proposed carbon sink plan the U.S. could achieve half of its target without any changes in current forestry practices.

Second, the administration wants to be allowed to use nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels, but environmentalists have long been totally opposed to new nuclear power plants.

Finally, one of the main components of the U.S. strategy to reduce emissions is the trading of emission quotas. Environmental activists are concerned that this will allow the U.S. to avoid action at home by buying emission credits, citing an administration estimate that 85 percent of the U.S. target could be achieved abroad.

“The World Wildlife Fund believes the majority of emissions reduction should happen in the United States since it is the worlds biggest carbon polluter,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWFs Climate Change Campaign. “Were going to have to kick the oil and coal habit” (Washington Times, October 11, 2000).

UK Environmentalists Stunned by Fuel Protests

Environmentalists in Britain are still trying to recover from what they see as a major setback in their continuing quest to tax fossil fuels out of existence in Europe. This falls tax revolt was a direct challenge to their agenda. Although green activists are very experienced at protesting, never have they been so effective as to shut down an entire country for an extended period of time as achieved by Britains truck and taxi drivers and farmers.

“The performance of the environment groups was a profound disappointment,” said Jeremy Leggett, former scientific director of Greenpeace Internationals climate campaign. “The episode amounted to a real setback to green thinking in an age where socially and environmentally aware investment is taking off like a rocket.”

“No one was ready for it,” complained green campaigner George Monbiot. “Groups were taken by surprise just like everyone else.” Next time theyll be ready, however. They are already planning countermeasures if the revolt resumes after the 60-day deadline the truckers set for the government to meet their demands (Reuters, October 17, 2000).

(The Hague, Netherlands) November 21, 2000 – In the midst of international negotiations on how to significantly reduce emissions from energy use, “dissident” scientists are vocally objecting to the underlying premise that individual and industrial human activities influence Nature’s dynamic processes, and the absence of a critical debate. This Sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ treaty on the theory of “global warming,” called the “Kyoto Protocol” after the city where the broad parameters were established in 1997, are now well along in their second and final week. Debate, however, has been exclusively focused on how to implement mandated emission reductions. Whether there is a scientific basis upon which to mandate such reductions is deemed unworthy of discussion. The reports constituting the official science, that is purportedly “settled,” is called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which is actually a series of reports on several related subjects.

Many prominent scientists attending this conference are rejecting that science is not a topic in discussions of what certainly appears to be an inherently scientific subject. That approach came under siege during two briefings here by researchers from the United States and several European countries, three of them “expert peer reviewers” of the IPCC product. They criticized not the science purportedly supporting the summaries of IPCC documents, in particular the Summary for Policymakers, but the differences between the underlying science and the summary of that science.

Led by Dr. Fred Singer, of the University of Virginia and the Science and Environment Policy Project, these scientists came from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to air their grievances. They addressed the measured temperatures, and the flaws in temperature projections that are based on computer climate models. The focus of their indignation, however, was the content of the recently leaked and anonymously authored summaries for the latest round of IPCC studies. These researchers drew attention to the fact that the science has specific, identified authors and peer reviewers. The summaries are anonymously authored, and were not subjected to any critique prior.

Dr. Richard Courtney, also an IPCC “expert reviewer” who is with the European Science and Environment Forum (UK), passionately argued a lack of measured “global” warming. He demonstrated that nearly all measured increases in temperatures have occurred in regions, for example Siberia, where data are sparse and not continuous, and are therefore doubtful. Dr. Singer speculated that the urban heat island effect (large cities holding on to heat) is likely responsible for the differential in the less rural measurements.

Singer admitted this was speculation, as a “best effort” to reconcile the difference between surface measurements, showing regional warming, and satellite and weather balloon measurements, which affirm each other and do not show any warming. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences affirmed the satellite and balloon tools just this year. All participants agreed upon the impact of the effect of developed areas holding radiated heat, and speculated that the remote stations may merely be less well-maintained than the regularly checked stations in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Also, those IPCC summaries all operate on what Dr. Courtney calls an at-best strange presumption, that being that there is a difference between “climate variability” and “climate change.” Variability, according to the summaries, is natural, while “change” is man-made. These summaries consider all fluctuations occurring before the industrial revolution to be variability; all that occurring after is “climate change.” “Whatever that is, it is not science,” said Dr. Courtney.

Courtney, an avowed socialist, stressed that the scientists were of varied political philosophies and thus were not joined or motivated by politics. Indeed, he asserted the opposite, saying “chickens do come home to roost; given time, these scientific flaws will come out but, it seems, that only after an agreement which harms the poor is underway.” He stated that, at that time, “[journalists] won’t blame the politicians who rammed this through, but the scientists. And that’s me. And I object.”

Earlier, other IPCC reviewers briefed interested parties earlier in the process, also expressing concern over the inconsistencies between the underlying work and the summary proclamations. While being careful to avoid citing any specific document not available to participating parties for such purposes, they cited how the Summary for Policymakers provides headline conclusions with underlying paragraphs that support the headlines. Some underlying statements, they explained, do include judgments of uncertainty or likelihood, which helps convey the confidence that should be assigned to the conclusions.

However, they continued, there are many instances where facts and analyses that do not support the conclusions are not mentioned. Because of this, these reviewing scientists claim, the conclusions appear more conservative than they are. They offered specific, detailed comments providing suggestions, that they had already submitted to the U.S. negotiators, whereby “balance could be added by including both statements that do and do not support the overall conclusions.”

Participating scientists in today’s briefing, sponsored by the “Cooler Heads Coalition” of public policy organizations focused on fostering debate over the science and economics surrounding Kyoto, also included a geophysicist and an expert on severe weather events. They addressed a packed room liberally peppered with well-pierced youths who initially expressed displeasure with this dissenting opinion. The audience, however, generally settled down and in fact stayed in large numbers for extended sidebar discussions with the scientists, afterward in the hallways.

(The Hague, Netherlands–November 17) – Just one month after the European Parliament effectively condemned the United States Senate for not doing something it in fact lacks the legal authority to do, European Union negotiators at COP-6 very publicly slammed a door in the face of US officials. This fifth day of negotiating sessions, aimed at tying up the Kyoto Protocol’s numerous loose ends, has been rocked by the previous evening’s forceful and open display of EU negotiators rejecting US-proposed concessions. During this critical session, in which countries seek to develop acceptable terms for meeting their requirements to reduce emissions from energy consumption, the Americans proposed a scaled-back version of their position on what are known as “sinks.” Sinks are projects absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), the dominant gas thought by many scientists to lead to an increase in the planet’s temperature, and therefore potential disruption of the climate. Projects can include planting trees or other land use decisions leading to increased carbon intake or storage. A pending, contentious issue is how much of a country’s targeted emission reductions can be obtained through sinks. The US has committed to reduce 600 million metric tons of CO2 annually.

The US had offered to discount their sink credit by 80%, thus accepting credit for only 20% of the estimated 288 million tons of carbon US forests and other efforts would absorb annually. Despite the dramatic nature of the offer on a matter considered a major obstacle to any progress being made here, and rumors of such movement leading the parties toward agreement, a document circulating late Thursday strongly dismissed the US proposal.

While the authors of the document remained in question due to language that was eerily similar to that circulating earlier in an nvironmentalist group publication, European officials subsequently made public statements affirming their rejection. For example, in an interview with the Earth Times, a publication serving as a sort of in-house organ for the proceedings, the president of the climate section of the European Commission, Jos Delbke, decried a lack of specifics in the US proposal and stated, “[I]t is minimal compared to what we thought it would be.”

These events come on the heels of the October resolution by the European Parliament calling on the US Congress “to drop their resistance to the principles agreed in Kyoto and to do justice to their responsibility to combat the green house effect.” This strong language passed despite the fact that President Clinton has yet to submit the treaty to the Senate, and therefore the Senate cannot legally either ratify or refuse to ratify it. The Senate to date has clearly not spoken favorably of the treaty, but it cannot fairly be blamed for inaction. Further, the fact that no EU countries to date have ratified the agreement struck some Americans as adding an element of hypocrisy to the resolution.

Final working group agreements faced a deadline of midnight, Friday, so as to have materials ready to present to high level diplomats who begin arriving Sunday for the more formal second week of the session. That deadline has slipped twenty fours hours, due to the acrimony. This negotiating development has also fanned the flames of rumors that President Clinton will appear in The Hague on his way back to Washington from Vietnam, in an effort to break the stalemate and add a successful negotiation to his stable of “legacy” items. Vice President Gore made such a “surprise” appearance at the December 1997 Kyoto negotiating session that bore the treaty language, and thus the name “Kyoto Protocol.”

Though how unplanned Vice President Gore’s visit really was has been hotly debated since, his trip to Kyoto to insist that US negotiators show “increased flexibility” led to a precedent, significant lessening of US demands and ultimate agreement on a framework. Observers presume Mr. Clinton would have similar goals in mind should he visit. Such a move, however, would likely doom the treaty in the Senate where just the broad principles of the Kyoto accord have faced strong criticism for what Senators see as a disproportionate burden borne by the U.S.

The sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change got off to a shaky start this week. This is supposed to be the concluding conference to finalize the Kyoto Protocol, but there appears to be little movement on the major issues that have plagued the negotiations from the beginning.

According to a Reuters story (November 14, 2000), the disagreement between the European Union and the United States over the use of emissions trading is as sharp as ever. “So far, I haven’t seen anyone move their position by one centimeter,” said Raul Estrada, Argentina’s special representative for the environment. The EU believes that the developed countries should reduce emissions through “tough domestic policies.”

Indeed, the EU probably won’t budge from its negotiating stance. Its 15 nations agreed to form a “united front in demanding tough rules for compliance,” that would “ensure countries made most of their emissions cuts through domestic action rather than through emissions credits or other ‘flexible mechanisms,'” according to a November 8 Reuters story. The EU also agreed to demand firm sanctions against countries which miss their targets and strict limits on the use of so-called ‘carbon sinks’ – uses of forests, which absorb carbon to account for some of a country’s target.

The U.S. and its allies, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, want full emissions trading that would allow them to purchase credits from developing countries and Russia as part of their compliance strategy. Adding to the standoff is a deal struck between the U.S. and fourteen Latin American countries “to push for full-scale trading in greenhouse gas emissions as a solution to global warming.” The emission credits would be created through U.S. funding of rainforest preservation in Latin America (Financial Times, November 6, 2000).

The “G-77 plus China” Group are also trying to present a united front in the negotiations. But their coalition is fracturing due to several disagreements. In general, the group wants the industrialized nations to commit to tough emissions reduction targets. But small island states worried about rising sea levels, for instance, have little in common with oil producing countries in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia claims that it would lose $25 billion per year as a result of Kyoto and wants to be compensated. “There will be no outcome if our concerns are not adequately addressed,” warned Mohammed al-Sabban, head of the Saudi delegation.