Kyoto Negotiations

Kyoto global-warming negotiations have resumed in Buenos Aires, where yesterday it was 85 degrees and sunny (being that the start of summer is a week away in the Southern Hemisphere). 

    “With what appears to be everyone consigned to drying their clothes on the rooftop here, it is curious why such an energy-impoverished country would splurge an estimated $10 million to host thousands of bureaucrats pushing a treaty premised on too much energy use,” remarks conference attendee Christopher C. Horner, senior fellow at Washington’s Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

    Still, the last time Buenos Aires hosted such talks in 1998, the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol. While the United States never actually rescinded that signature, its team once again finds itself in a hostile “environment.” 

    “Right off the bat, U.S. negotiators publicly minced no words about joining Kyoto or anything resembling its ‘targets and timetables’ of energy rationing,” notes Mr. Horner. 

    Treaty negotiations are nothing without intrigue, and there is a buzz over two interesting developments. First, the Times of London late last week splashed word of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who vows a monomaniacal climate crusade to match his campaign-finance ‘reform’ victory, mediating a face-saving U.S. climate-treaty commitment for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 

    “All parties denied this was the goal, but attendees here claim McCain’s visit is being quietly followed up this week by his more moderate colleague and presidential hopeful Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican,” reports Mr. Horner.”Blair remains under increasing pressure from neighbors such as French President Jacques Chirac to show that he has ‘gotten something’ for his cooperative relationship with President Bush over Iraq. 

    “If a U.S. ‘global warming’ commitment is indeed the pound of flesh that Blair seeks to shed his ‘poodle’ moniker, one wonders how replacing a claim of ‘blood for oil’ with ‘blood for Kyoto’ would sit any better with the voters he faces next year.” 

    Stay tuned.

International global warming activists will have CEI sound-science team Myron Ebell, Director of International Environmental Policy, and Ivan Osorio, CEI Editorial Director, to contend with at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 13-17.

Contact Myron Ebell in Argentina at 202-320-6685 or

Ebell and Osorio will be available for interviews live from Argentina (Osorio in Spanish and English) and will report breaking news and eye-witness accounts on:

 This is the first UNFCCC Conference of the Parties since Russias ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which will enable the treaty to go into effect on February 16, 2005. 

 CEI is an officially-accredited NGO to the UNFCCC and one of the few accredited groups opposed to the Kyoto agreement.

 Ebell and Osorio will participate in public and media events, including the conference : 

Climate Change, Energy, and the Future of the World Economy, Tuesday, December 14, 6:45 pm – Conference: co-sponsored with Fundacin Atlas. For more information on this event, please email or call (54) 11.4343.3886.

CEI global warming experts Iain Murray and Fred Smith will also be available for U.S.-based interviews on the conference.

Visit to view CEI commentary and analysis on global warming.

The United States is pursuing a three-pronged climate change strategy that is equal to the efforts of any other nation to address this environmental issue, which is the focus of attention at a major international meeting underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“We believe we match or exceed what any other country in the world is doing to address” climate change and the need to control greenhouse gas emissions, said Harlan Watson, senior climate negotiator for the U.S. State Department, speaking at a press briefing on the sidelines of the conference of the parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The first prong in the U.S. strategy is to reduce carbon intensity — that is, the amount of carbon emissions generated per dollar of economic output — and consequently to reduce emissions.

“Second, we are making substantial investments in science and technology and institutions designed to address both climate change in the near term and in the long term,” Watson said to the international press. The senior official, also the alternate head of the U.S. delegation to the meeting, said the United States is spending about $5 billion annually on science and technology projects, including solar and renewable energy technologies, and advanced, still-developing technologies such as nuclear fission and fusion.

The United States has established partnership arrangements with other nations in pursuit of those technological breakthroughs, and that is the third element of the U.S. strategy.

“We have well over 200 projects with our partners addressing climate change science, clean energy technologies, earth observations, and so forth,” said Watson. The United States and partners are working to develop a new generation of nuclear reactors, new methods for the capture and storage of fossil fuel emissions, and the technologies and support structure to move society toward a hydrogen-energy based economy.

The looming implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is the main agenda item at the UNFCCC. The United States is not a party to that agreement, which called for compulsory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Watson said the United States may not be in accord on the Kyoto agreement, but it has taken actions to reduce emissions and control climate change.

“Much more focus ought to be put on the action,” he said.

The following terms are used in the transcript:

DOE: U.S. Department of Energy

EURATOM: European Atomic Energy Community

The transcript of the press briefing follows:

[U.S. Department of State]

Press Briefing by
Dr. Harlan L. Watson
Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative,
U.S. Department of State, and
Alternate Head of the United States Delegation,
Tenth Conference of the Parties [COP] to the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC]

Buenos Aires, Argentina
December 7, 2004

Dr. Watson: We welcome and congratulate the government of Argentina on hosting the meeting here and for the excellent arrangements they have made. We are certainly committed to working constructively and to having positive outcomes of this Conference of the Parties.

The United States does remain committed to the Framework Convention and to achieving its ultimate objective. However, we are taking a different path than Kyoto, which many of the parties here are taking. With regard to the actions the United States is taking, they are many, and I would challenge many of the Kyoto Protocol Parties to match us in the activities we are taking both domestically and internationally.

First of all, we have three prongs in our climate policy which President Bush announced in February 2002. The first is to reduce our greenhouse gas intensity at home, thereby slowing the growth of our greenhouse gas emissions. Second, we are making substantial investments in science and technology and institutions designed to address both climate change in the near term and in the long term. And, third, we are engaging actively in international cooperation — both on a bilateral basis and on a multilateral basis.

With regard to our domestic program, we are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas intensity by 18% over the ten-year period 2002-2012. This is a domestic commitment the President made. We are doing this through a number of programs through both incentives and voluntary programs, and through some mandatory programs such as improving the fuel economy of our automobiles, improving the efficiency of our appliances and so on.

With regard to science, the United States is spending some $2 billion annually on the science of climate change, to address the uncertainties and help reduce these uncertainties. We spent some $23 billion dollars since 1990 when the U.S. Global Change Research Program was first initiated.

On the technology side, we spend approximately $3 billion dollars annually on a variety of technologies, the implementation of which would allow us to reduce our greenhouse gases over the long term. This includes both near-term options such as solar, and other renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency technologies, advanced fossil technologies — and some longer-term technologies, such as advanced nuclear, both in fission and fusion, as well as strong investments in hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage.

Internationally — we are engaged both, as I mentioned before, on a bilateral basis as well as multilaterally. Bilaterally, we have established partnerships with 14 countries and regional organizations — many of which are Kyoto parties and some of which are not. We have well over 200 projects with our partners addressing climate change science, clean energy technologies, earth observations and so forth. We have also initiated, as I mentioned yesterday, some five multilateral initiatives — science and technology initiatives:

The Group on Earth Observations — which is involving over 50 nations and 30 international organizations, as well as the European Commission, I might add, on helping to design and implement, over the next ten years, a comprehensive earth observation system which will provide data not only on climate change but also on other environmental issues.

We have a very strong partnership among 10 countries and the EURATOM on the Generation IV International Forum which is working to develop a new generation of nuclear reactors, which will be safer and more economic and secure, from a proliferation standpoint.

The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, with some 16 countries and the European Commission, is working on technologies that will allow the capture and storage, in a safe and environmental manner, of emissions from fossil fuel burning plants.

The International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy — where again we have 16 countries and the European Commission — is working to advance the global transition to a hydrogen economy.

And most recently, the Methane-to-Markets Partnership where 13 countries joined the United States this summer to launch an innovative program that will be targeted on reducing methane emissions, which is the second most important greenhouse gas. With regard to this latter partnership, the U.S. committed some $53 million to the Partnership over the next five years.

I want to close my opening remarks by referring to President Bushs commitment he made in June 2001 to develop with friends and allies and nations throughout the world an effective and science-based response to address climate change. The United States supports the development of an integrated approach to partnerships among governments, the private sector and NGOs that promotes economic growth, improves economic efficiency and productivity, enhances energy security, increases the availability of cleaner, more efficient energy resources and, of course, reduces pollution — all in ways that have the effect of reducing nations’ greenhouse gas intensity.

We believe that economic development is absolutely key to addressing this issue, because without economic development and economic growth around the world we are not going to be able to afford the new technologies that we need to address the problem in the long term.

And with that, I will be happy to stop and take any questions that you might have. Thank you.

Reuters: Dr. Watson, you told us about the goal of reducing the GHG intensity by 18% over the next 10 years. I wanted to know where U.S. emissions will stand in 2012 relative to 1990, because I understand that your emissions rose since 1990 right now, are up 13% and well, I’d rather you do the math for me.

Dr. Watson: Well, I quite frankly don’t have off the top of my head — maybe my colleagues of the DOE can address what our latest projection is. I believe we are forecasted, under a business-as-usual scenario, to be up approximately 20% by 2010. But, Dave, do you have that figure at the top of your head?

David Conover [Director, Climate Change Technology Program, U.S. Department of Energy]: No, I don’t.

Dr. Watson: O.K. I think the projections, again under the latest business-as-usual [scenario], we would expect a 4% reduction from that, which would get us about 15% or 16% above 1990 levels.

German Radio: Can you please tell us how would an international climate change protection regime from the time after 2012 have to look so it could be ratified by the U.S.?

Dr. Watson: Quite frankly, we don’t believe it’s time to address the post-2012 time frame. We are very focused on implementing the President’s program domestically. We think there are many lessons that will be learned from that process, which can inform the international process. We believe the same is true for those who will be working to implement the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, what is still to be decided among the Kyoto Parties is the type of compliance regime that will be agreed to; whether, of course, the Kyoto mechanisms – exactly how all those will work out. Of course, European trading systems and other trading systems under development still have to be implemented. Again, we will learn many, many lessons from that. And, quite frankly, whether or not the Kyoto Parties will be willing to take on what we believe would be non-growth economic policies; [they will be] required to meet the targets. So, for all of these reasons, we do not believe that it is the appropriate time to talk about post-2012 negotiations.

Agence France-Presse: I just want to understand your figures on what you’re spending this fiscal year. Can one add $3 billion this year and $2 billion annually to say that you’re spending $5 billion on climate change science and on new technologies? I mean, to simplify matters, can I do that or how would you do the arithmetic? Thank you.

Dr. Watson: Yes. Actually, Congress, by the way, is still working on our 2005 budget. The President’s overall request for climate change programs was $5.8 billion, $5 billion of which were spent on science and technology – $2 billion on the science and $3 billion on the technology. We also have some significant amounts requested before Congress with regard to tax incentives to encourage the use of clean energy technologies as well as, of course, our assistance to developing countries through our contributions to GEF and other international bodies.

Energy Daily: You mentioned the President’s statement in June 2001 committing to a science-based response to the problem of global warming. Can we infer that the U.S. does not consider the Kyoto Protocol to be based on sound science?

Dr. Watson: The Kyoto Protocol was a political agreement. It was not based on science.

German Press Agency: You’ve been telling us all the efforts the U.S. is making concerning climate change. Can you tell us when the world can expect that GHG emissions will really decrease? In which year will this be – in 2020 or when would that be? And a second question, if you allow me, what went wrong in American way of life that you have almost doubled GHG emissions in comparison to countries in Europe with the same living standard, more or less? What went wrong in the States?

Dr. Watson: Let me address the last part first, and I’ll turn to my colleague in the Department of Energy to perhaps provide some more detail on some of our technology programs. Nothing went wrong in the U.S. We are blessed with economic growth. In most developed countries and developing countries economic growth implies more energy use, which typically implies more emissions. I might say, by the way, that your sweeping statement about European reductions does not hold across-the-board, because you should know there have been substantial increases in a number of countries in Europe. I’m not going to name any countries, but I think you all know who they are.

David, would you like to address the first question?

David Conover: Thank you. We are making substantial investments in both near-term deployment of energy-efficiency and renewable energy. The total budget for our program is over $3 billion, as Harlan indicated, and fully a quarter of that is deployment of technologies today that will have an impact on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The larger efforts that we have going will phase in over the near, the mid-term and long-term. The Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy [and the Presidents Hydrogen Fuel Initiative are aiming for] the 2015 time-frame [for commercialization of] hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The FutureGen program is clean coal with sequestration producing hydrogen and electricity, and is also on schedule for that time frame.

The GEN IV nuclear programs that Harlan mentioned are aiming at the 2035 time-frame. And, ITER and the fusion effort…… is aiming to the middle of the century, in the 2050 time-frame.

So we are phasing these technologies as we move forward. We have strong investments in the near term, and we believe that the intensity metric that we are using is the appropriate metric to recognize both reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and continued economic growth.

Question: My question is, beyond climate itself, which consequences does the U.S. perceive that is suffering from the dependence on fossil carbon? Now, the reason for my question is that in today’s local “Buenos Aires Herald”, which is in English, there’s a reproduction of an article by Thomas Friedman. He points out that, in effect, the National Science Foundation will be funded less by 105 million dollars next year. That means that there’s a reduction of 2%, and he also points out that by paying these high amounts of money for imports of oil we are actually funding terrorism that’s going to the U.S…and the question was simply that beyond climate itself, what other consequences does the U.S. have now from the dependence on fossil carbon?

Dr. Watson: You’re getting way beyond my area of expertise. But, clearly, it is having an impact in the increased oil prices and obviously has had an impact in what we have seen at the fuel pumps and so on. And I believe that all of the forecasts are that we are going to have lower economic growth than we otherwise would have – as will the rest of the world. Beyond that you are getting way beyond my realm of expertise. I really don’t want to comment.

O Globo, Brazil: My question is if the U.S. is doing so many things to reduce emissions as they say here, why do you think there are so many negative opinions about the Bush administration that seems to be like the bad boy. Why is that if you’re doing so much and … [inaudible]?

Dr. Watson: Thank you for your question. I’m not sure why we are considered the “bad boys.” Let me just say that perhaps there’s a perception that it is more important to agree to things rather than taking actions. We believe the focus ought to be on the actions. But, agreeing to Kyoto does not necessarily mean that you’re going to meet those commitments. And again, much more focus ought to be put on the actions… Again, our focus there is highlighting our actions. We believe we match or exceed what any other country in the world is doing to address the issue.

BBC News: There’s been quite a lot of criticism of your attempts yesterday to keep discussion off the agenda of the various conferences coming up next year – on Disaster Relief and on the problems of Small Island States. The interpretation that some of the NGO’s are putting on this is that you are very concerned not to admit the causal link between climate change and some of the problems being discussed there because of the possible liability issues that might arise if that link was admitted. Can you comment on that?

Dr. Watson: Yes, let me say that our intervention there was to make sure that there is appropriate input from the Framework Convention on Climate Change into those other two meetings that are coming up — in Mauritius on the Barbados Plan of Action – as well as the Kobe World Conference on Disaster Reduction. And then, of course, the input in the Commission on Sustainable Development process, which will be from 2006 to 2007.

Each of the upcoming meetings that will occur in January of next year has their own negotiating sessions. Certainly, climate is featured in the current negotiating text. We believe that those are the appropriate fora to negotiate those texts. Quite frankly, one of our concerns here is that this meeting will be used as an opportunity to try to negotiate things here in a forum which is really not appropriate. Again, those negotiations will take place, and the results of those will take place both in Mauritius and in Kobe at the end of January.

We also have a problem with the Framework Convention, trying to provide inputs into meetings in general. Our time here is very limited, and there are many, many issues on the plate. Procedurally, if the Conference of the Parties starts to provide input to every meeting that is occurring, nothing else will get done. In fact, we won’t even work through the list of meetings.

Lastly, we want to make sure that, again, the attention is focused on what it is that the Convention is actually doing to contribute to those processes. There are many, many activities which are being carried out under the Framework Convention which are relevant to both the meetings in Mauritius and Kobe — particularly our work on adaptation is certainly very relevant, and we expect a very positive outcome on adaptation as well as other major steps that have been undertaken under the Convention processes.

There is an agreement that was reached that the focus [of the COP plenary discussion] will be on an exchange of views on what UNFCCC activities are underway or have been accomplished that are appropriate for the Executive Secretary to report on to those meetings. Those bodies can then take those into account and complete their negotiations ultimately successfully on their text there.

New York Times: I wanted to go back to the issue of post-2012 goals. Dr. Watson, you made reference to the February 2002 speech by President Bush in which he said that within 10 years the U.S. would reassess its position. So, I have two questions that flow from that. Why not, even in an informal fashion, discuss now some of those issues, post-2012 issues and plan ahead? That’s the first question. Secondly, if not now, when?

Dr. Watson: Why not?’ Because we are still implementing the President’s program and we want to be informed by the results. The President said the current U.S. plan is to review the results of that in 2012. And, if not [now], when?’ Well, again, 2012 is when the U.S. has to reassess its current program. Obviously, we will be informed along the way by science and make adjustments as needed. But we do not intend to change our overall approach.

BBC: In the session yesterday, the opening session, this is Joke Waller Hunter when she was speaking about the future and after 2012 about the possibility of different rules and different speeds. Did you interpret that as an opening towards the United States’ willingness to discuss different ways of doing things?

Dr. Watson: Listening carefully and reading her comments, I think she put that more as a hypothetical and certainly something that needs to be on the table – different approaches and so on. And, particularly if you have the desire to bring in developing countries more into the process than they currently are, there will have to be different approaches because expecting developing countries, whose focus is on poverty reduction, to agree to targets and timetables that might impede that desire to reduce poverty in their countries is just not going to be something that is agreeable to them.

Thank you.

Europe Looking Beyond Kyoto Climate Change Treaty; NCPA Says Kyoto Treaty Can’t Be Improved Without Developing Nations’ Participation

Contact: Sean Tuffnell of the National Center for Policy Analysis, 800-859-1154 or

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ — Skeptics of the theory that human activity is causing global climate change now have confirmation of their argument that the Kyoto Treaty — the energy-rationing international treaty to cut greenhouse gases — was not an end point but only a modest first step, according to an expert with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). The Associated Press reports today that delegates from European countries assembling in Buenos Aires next week as part of the annul international treaty conference will begin a push to find new ways to confront the presumed climate change.

“Since it is widely recognized that Kyoto will do nothing to stem the rise of greenhouse gases, it is understandable that if you believe they are the cause of catastrophic global warming something beyond Kyoto is needed,” said NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. “The problem is the vast majority of signatory countries are unlikely to meet their Kyoto obligations, much less go beyond them.”

The Kyoto Treaty’s requirement of initial cuts in “greenhouse gas” emissions by 2012 finally comes into force in February, seven years after it was negotiated. European governments now want the annual treaty conference — Dec. 6-17 in the Argentine capital — to get down to talks on steps beyond 2012 to limit heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

That debate will go on in the corridors at Buenos Aires, while the formal meeting agenda puts a “major, major emphasis” on adapting to climate change, said the Dutch head of the treaty secretariat, Joke Waller-Hunter.

“To the extent that the next agreement contains binding commitment from fast growing developing countries, it might have a chance of garnering U.S. support and modestly reducing the rise or at least the rate of rise of CO2,” said Burnett. “Yet it is extremely unlikely that most developing countries will agree to binding commitments for themselves — in fact, most are on record rejecting them.”

Burnett concluded that in the end, “by the time any proposed reductions under a new commitment period come into effect, climate science could very well show climate change to be less of a threat than is currently believed – which would tend to undercut the need for energy restrictions.”


The NCPA is an internationally known nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute with offices in Dallas and Washington, D.C. that advocates private solutions to public policy problems. We depend on the contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations that share our mission. The NCPA accepts no government grants.

[Full study available as a pdf.]



Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) likens his push for another vote on the Climate Stewardship Act (S. 139), which the Senate rejected 55 to 43 in October of last year, to his seven-year crusade to limit campaign fundraising and political advertising: Its an old strategy of mine, he said. Force votes on the issues. Ultimately, we will win. [[i]] Or, ultimately, he will lose. But this much is undeniable: McCain, chief co-sponsor Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), and their advocacy group allies are on offense. They aggressively seek opportunities to publicize their message, expand their support base, and advance their agenda.


The same aggressive approach characterizes the climate alarmist camp generally. At home and abroad, in courts and legislatures, in the media and regulatory bodies, alarmists are on the attack:


         Environmental activist groups endlessly lambaste President Bush for withdrawing the United States from the Kyoto global warming treaty. [[ii]]

         The British Governments Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, in an attempt to influence U.S. policy, called climate change the most severe problem that we are facing todaymore serious even than the threat of terrorism. [[iii]]

         European Union politicians relentlessly pressed Russian leaders to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. [[iv]]

         Twelve state attorneys general (AGs), 14 advocacy groups, and three cities are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for rejecting a petition to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. [[v]]

         State legislators introduced at least 60 bills in 2004 proposing some form of CO2 regulation. [[vi]]

         New York Governor George Pataki and nine other Northeastern governors plan to cap CO2 emissions from their states electric power sector. [[vii]]

         Six New England governors formed a compact with five Eastern Canadian Premiers to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. [[viii]]  

         The California Air Resources Board approved its plan to implement AB 1493, a state law mandating maximum feasible reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles. [[ix]]

         The AGs of seven states plus the New York City corporation counsel are suing Americas five largest electric power producers to require each company to cap its CO2 emissions and then reduce them by a specified percentage annually for at least a decade. [[x]]

         The National Academy of Sciences published a study predicting apocalyptic climate impacts in California, such as an 8.3C (14.1F) increase in average summertime temperatures by 2100, unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions. [[xi]] The NAS published the study even though its dire forecasts derive from discredited emissions scenarios [[xii]] and a climate model (the U.K. Met office Hadley Centre model) found to be incapable of replicating past U.S. temperature trends regardless of the averaging period used (five-year, 10-year, or 25-year). [[xiii]]

         The Sydney Centre for International and Global Law published a report arguing that Australia has a legal obligation, under the 1972 World Heritage Convention, to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and, indeed, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. [[xiv]]


Despite this surge of activism, alarmists have scored few if any victories at the national level:


         Senate leaders kept climate language out of the Senate energy bill. [[xv]]

         As already noted, the Senate rejected the McCain-Lieberman bill. Despite pro-Kyoto activists high-profile efforts to depict President Bush as an environmental criminal, [[xvi]] the environment was not a key issue in the November 2004 elections, and the Senate lost four supporters of McCain-LiebermanTom Daschle (D-SD), John Edwards (D-NC), Bob Graham (D-Fla.), and Ernest Hollings (D-SC). In the House, legislation of the McCain-Lieberman variety has no chance of passing or even of coming to a vote.

         Kyoto remains in such disfavor with most Americans that the Democratic Partys 2004 platformin sharp contrast to the partys 2000 platformdid not even mention the climate treaty negotiated by former standard-bearer Al Gore.


         The Bush Administration backed away from its proposal to award Kyoto-type emission credits to companies registering voluntary greenhouse gas emission reductions. [[xvii]]

         When EPA rejected the petition to regulate CO2 emissions from motor vehicles, it also disavowed, as no longer representing the agencys views, statements by Clinton administration officials claiming authority under the Clean Air Act to adopt regulatory climate policies. [[xviii]]


Supporters of pro-growth energy policy have, in short, done a reasonably good job of fending off several major thrusts by climate alarmists during the past 18 months. However, in politics, as in war, staying permanently on defense rarely leads to victory. A purely defensive posture cedes the initiative to ones opponents, allowing the other team to generate the headlines, capture the public imagination, and frame the terms of debate.


The battle over climate policy is a protracted struggle. To win it, the friends of economic liberty, scientific inquiry, and affordable energy must advance their own vision and compel alarmists to react to it. Taking a leaf out of McCains playbook, they should introduce their own Sense of Congress resolution on climate change, recruit co-sponsors, and force votes on the bill, year after year, until it passes.


What kinds of information and ideas should a sensible climate bill include? Read on.



[i] McCain/Lieberman still fighting for climate amendment floor time, Energy & Environment Daily, July 7, 2004.

[ii] In reality, Bush did no such thing. The United States continues to send official representatives to the Kyoto negotiations, and the President has not renounced Americas signature on the treaty.

[iii] King, D. A. 2004. Climate Change Science: Adapt, Mitigate, Ignore?  Science 303: 176-177.

[iv] Brian Stempeck, Pressure to ratify Kyoto is undeclared war against Russia, official says, Greenwire, July 19, 2004.

[v] Brian Stempeck, Attorneys general outline argument in major CO2 litigation, Greenwire, June 23, 2004.

[vi] American Legislative Exchange Council, Sons of Kyoto: 2004 Summary of Greenhouse Gas Legislation in the States, June 2, 2004.

[vii] States take independent action on clean air plans, Greenwire, July 8, 2004.

[viii] New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers, Climate Change Action Plan 2001, August 2001,

[ix] California Air Resources Board, Climate Change, September 24, 2004, 

[x] Brian Stempeck, States lawsuit demands utilities reduce CO2 emissions 3 percent per year, Greenwire, July 22, 2004.

[xi] Hayhoe, K., et al. 2004. Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California. PNAS   vol. 101, no. 34: 12422-12427.

[xii] See finding (17).

[xiii] Testimony of Patrick Michaels, The U.S. National Climate Change Assessment: Do the Climate Models Project a Useful Picture of Regional Climate? House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, July 25, 2002.

[xiv] Sydney Centre for International and Global Law, Global Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: Australias Obligations under the World Heritage Convention, September 21, 2004,

[xv] Darren Samuelsohn, Domenici drops climate change title until floor debate, Energy & Environment Daily, April 10, 2003.

[xvi] Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Democracy (New York: HarperCollins, 2004).

[xvii] Marty Coyne, Bush administration backs away from GHG credits, Greenwire, December 3, 2003.

[xviii] Memorandum of Robert E. Frabricant, General Counsel, to Marianne L. Horinko, Acting Administrator, EPAs Authority to Impose Mandatory Controls to Address Global Climate Change under the Clean Air Act, August 28, 2003.

USA TODAY’s editorial fails to make an economic case for U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (“Global warming shift gets cold shoulder,” Our view, Greenhouse gas emissions debate, Oct. 21).

It argues that, unlike businesses in Kyoto-ratifying countries, U.S.-based plants “risk being left behind in adopting new technologies that not only cut emissions but also boost efficiency and lower business costs.”

Not so. In a global marketplace, U.S. firms will adopt whatever technologies “boost efficiency and lower business costs,” whether the USA ratifies Kyoto or not. Besides, the editorial seems to confuse energy efficiency with economic efficiency. Kyoto’s emission caps are a stealth energy tax, and energy taxes raise firms’ production costs, not lower them.

Finally, Kyoto’s emission-trading scheme is not a new feature that somehow renders obsolete President Bush’s reasons for rejecting Kyoto in 2001. Kyoto has emphasized emissions trading since its inception in December 1997.

Kyoto was and remains an expensive, non-solution to an unproven problem.

Marlo Lewis
Senior fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Lost among the charges and counter charges about lost explosives during the last week of the presidential campaign, was a last-gasp attempt by the environmental community to impact the election. The assault came from Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who traveled to Iowa from his Manhattan home to charge that the Bush Administration is purposely ignoring growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes.” And that “delay of another decadeis a colossal risk.”

Scary stuff if true; but is it? Dr. Hansen himself hasn’t always thought so. His own most recent research, in which he has argued mainly for quickly limiting emissions of methane, rather than CO2, contradicts this claim. Smoke stacks and tailpipes don’t emit methane; cattle and rice fields do.

It appears that Dr. Hansen’s speech in Iowa during the climax of the election is just the latest example of a willingness to change his scientific position depending on his perceived direction of the political winds. For example, Dr. Hansen told former Vice President Al Gore that he predicted high-end estimates of warming, and attributed that to emissions of CO2. More recently, Hansen has embraced lower-end estimates of warming, and suggested that we should control methane emission more than CO2. Yet policy that impacts every area of our economy should be set on sound science, not science that bends to the political winds.

Back to his current charge; is it accurate, are CO2 emissions causing sea levels to rise dramatically? He apparently bases his assertion on his own publication [Proc Nat’l Acad Sci 2004] that to preserve global coastlines, global warming must not exceed one degree Celsius. As sole support for this unusual claim, he cites his own recent article in the popular Scientific American [vol 290, pp 68-77, 2004].

All independent evidence, however, shows sea levels rising steadily – by about 400 feet in the past 18,000 years, since the peak of the most recent ice age. Significantly, empirical evidence has demonstrated that there has been no acceleration of sea level rise during the strong warming in the early 20th century. Evidently, warming leads to faster evaporation from the oceans and an increased rate of ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent – producing a drop in sea level that mostly offsets the rise from the thermal expansion of the oceans.

In addition, as is well known, prompt policy action (by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases in accord with the Kyoto Protocol) would lower the calculated temperature rise by 2050 by at most a tiny one-thirtieth of a degree C – too small to even measure.

Further, it is important to remember that President Bush did not “withdraw” from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming – as his critics so falsely claim. He simply has not submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification; but neither did his predecessor, former President Bill Clinton. Clinton decided not to submit the treaty that was negotiated on his watch because the Senate at the time had voted unanimously against any treaty that would have such damaging economic consequences. That vote was unanimous, including the junior Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry.

It’s hard to see how ‘prompt action’ of any kind could affect sea level. Dr. Hansen’s critique is disingenuous and not founded on science, and is a prime example of why it is important not to base important public policy decisions on any one scientist’s predictions.

Commissioner Pascal Lamys announcement on 20 October that lesser developed countries that implement the European agenda of the Kyoto protocol and other international treaties on the environment will be paid off with a lighter tariff burden amounts to the EUs final repudiation of the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johnannesburg in 2002.

At the World Summit, the collective voice of the poor countries of the world firmly rejected European attempts to mire them in economic stagnation. Recognizing the importance of cheap, abundant energy to reducing poverty, they rebuffed initiatives aimed at foisting the least efficient, most land-intensive, and most expensive “renewable” energy technologies upon them. They insisted on a multilateral, rather than bilateral, approach to eradicating poverty and moved to ensure “that energy policies are supportive to developing countries efforts to eradicate poverty.”

The new announcement marks a return to the EUs pre-Johannesburg strategy, explicitly rewarding countries for engaging in bilateral agreements with the EU and attempting to ensure that the European agenda wins out over cheaper, more efficient ways of eradicating poverty.

The announcement says that the smallest countries with the most vulnerable economies can gain preferential treatment in the form of dutyfree access to EU markets for over 7,200 products, including agricultural goods.

By aiming the new programme at the most vulnerable economies, the EU is driving a wedge between those countries and the more powerful voices of the developing world, such as China, India and Brazil.

Lamy also confirmed that China would lose its preferential access for textile and clothing imports.

Conventions that the countries will be expected to sign up to by the end of 2008 include the Kyoto protocol on global warming (recently judged a “bad investment” of the worlds money by a panel including three Nobel laureate economists), the Cartagena protocol on genetically-modified organisms (which formalizes a precautionary approach to the best available solution toworld hunger), agreements enshrining trade union rights and even conventions on drug trafficking.

Lamy hailed the initiative as an example of the EUs use of “soft power,” an attempt to exert international influence by means of persuasion and incentives rather than by threats and demands.

The EU comes to this move after seeing the success of its approach towards persuading Russia to move towards ratification of the Kyoto protocol,something that senior Russian sources admit was a purely political decision based on the concessions the EU was offering Russia, rather than any belief that the protocol was scientifically or economically justified.

It is possible, however, that the measure will be seen by developing countries as a whole as an attempt to impose European mores on independent countries.

The measure shows similarities to the British Victorian idea of “imperial preference,” whereby those countries that subjugated themselves to British law and custom were granted access to the greatest market of the era.

In July 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 for a resolution opposing any international treaty that would damage the economy by restricting energy usage, raising the cost of fuels for transportation, heating and electricity.

This unanimous vote included Sen. John Kerry, and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who are currently advocating just such restrictions. But the resolution was right. A treaty obligating developed nations but not China, India, Brazil and Mexico would produce huge U.S. job losses as industries moved overseas.

However, because of the initiative of then-vice president Al Gore, the U.S. signed just such a treaty, the protocol negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. But President Clinton never submitted it for Senate ratification. And President Bush has consistently declared Kyoto “fatally flawed.”

Neither Bush nor the Senate has pointed out, however, that Kyoto is not only costly and unfair to the U.S., but it is also ineffective in averting a feared global warming. Scientists all agree that at best it would reduce the calculated temperature rise in 2050 by an insignificant one-tenth of a degree.

Russia has been more outspoken. The Russian Academy of Sciences, in a May 2004 report, questioned the reality of substantial future warming, concluding that Kyoto lacks any scientific base. President Vladimir Putin declared Kyoto “scientifically flawed” and intimated that Russia would not ratify it.

Yet, ironically, Russia’s parliament will likely ratify it before the year’s end, making Kyoto binding on all ratifiers. Why? The reason may be short-term economic gain, as the protocol permits selling Russia’s unused emission rights to Europeans anxious to ease the economic penalties of Kyoto’s restrictions.

Russia’s economic collapse after 1990 nearly halved its emissions and the base year chosen for Kyoto is 1990. This arbitrary choice also favors Germany, which took over a faltering East German economy, and Great Britain, which switched its electric generation from coal to natural gas at about that time. We would lose out, and maybe that’s why our economic competitors are so anxious to get us to ratify Kyoto.

S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and the author of Hot Talk Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate (Independent Institute, Oakland, 1999).

 Jeff Holmstead, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys Office of Air and Radiation, gave a boost to those who stress the inevitability of carbon restrictions at a conference in Lexington, Ky., on October 12.  According to Greenwire (Oct. 13), he said, Unless there’s some changes in the way the scientific community is going, there in some point in the future will be a carbon-constrained world.

Greenwire went on, Asked later to expound on his comments, Holmstead said he was providing an observation on the decisions that U.S. industries must face in the future. With natural gas prices  trending  upward,  Holmstead said the nation will have to maintain reliance on coal as a primary fuel.  As such, new coal-fired plants will likely face some constraints on GHG emissions over their 50- to 75-year lifespans, he said.

 Holmstead noted that uncertainty about the government’s direction on GHGs has got to be frustrating for business people who are trying to anticipate how their status will change in the future.

 In response, CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray issued the following statement:

 On the same day Vice President Cheney reminded us of the jobs saved by the Administration’s brave stance in rejecting artificial restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, another administration official yesterday pulled the rug from under his feet by suggesting such restrictions are inevitable. 

 Those remarks by Jeff Holmstead are a slap in the face for coal miners and auto workers across the nation.  Greenhouse gas restrictions will mean seniors pay more for their heat in the winter, families pay more for transportation, and business owners pay more in energy costs.  Not only that, but they will do virtually nothing to abate a rise in temperature which may prove beneficial anyway.

 Rather than waving a white flag to the energy suppression lobby (whose former standard bearer was Enron, we should not forget), Holmstead should have focused on ways to strengthen the world economy.  That way, if global warming does prove to be a problem, we will have little to worry about.  We’ve seen how resilient America has been to four hurricanes this year.  We should be trying to make the rest of the world as strong as America rather than weakening America by engaging in futile attempts to change the weather.

Holmstead’s remarks are simply incompatible with the correct approach the current Administration has taken on this issue.  The American economy doesn’t need the poison pill he’s prescribed.  For the sake of American jobs, human wealth and global prosperity, Holmstead should be fired.  He can no doubt look forward to a high-paying job with one of the companies that hopes to profit from impoverishing Americans through energy rationing.