Bush Administration Searches for Alternatives to Kyoto

by William Yeatman on December 26, 2001

in Politics

The Bush Administration is actively seeking an alternative strategy to the rejected Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases, according to the Financial Times (December 14, 2001). A leading proposal is an emissions trading program that would involve the Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In a December 4 article, FT reported that President Bush “in July called for joint action on greenhouse gases in North America.”

John Graham, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has also endorsed “market-based” programs. The December 19 issue of FT reports, “He is also considering an expanded program of pollution trading which might include the swap of emissions permits for the release of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide mercury and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”

On November 30, the Commission for Environmental Co-operation under the North American Free Trade Agreement held the first of two meetings to discuss the establishment of such a system. There are several obstacles to overcome, including the fact that Canada is still committed to the Kyoto Protocol and that Mexico is exempt from Kyoto commitments (FT, December 14).

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, an industry front group that has heavily lobbied the administration to regulate greenhouse gases, argues that, “Most companies think something is going to come down” (from the regulators), says Pew spokeswoman, Katie Mandes. “Some think legislation is inevitable and want to get out in front.” The 37 companies that make up Pews membership hope to profit from government regulation of greenhouse gases.

Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense, which has set up its own corporate lobby for greenhouse regulation “predicts that the Bush Administration will balk at setting up a cap for emission trading. The most she expects is a voluntary Nafta-based program, under which companies would trade credits,” reports FT. A voluntary scheme would increase industry support for a cap since emission permits would be worthless otherwise.

Michael Marvin, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, says his group “only wants three things from government. To tell us where to go (by establishing caps), when to get there and to get the hell out of the way.”

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