Kyoto Negotiations

 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.

Acting contrary to the advice of the countrys top scientific and economic advisers, Russian President Vladimir Putins cabinet agreed in principle on September 29 to send the Kyoto Protocol to Russias parliament, the Duma, for consideration.


 


The decision was not accompanied by either a statement from the President in support of the protocol or any other explanation of why the decision has been taken.  Economy Minister German Gref, a supporter of the protocol, commented that implementing the protocol would involve hard work for the country and that it could be detrimental if the wrong method of implementation were chosen (Moscow Times, Sept. 27).


 


Chief Economic Adviser Andrei Illarionov said that the move was political in nature, Its a political decision.  Its a forced decision, and its not a decision we are making with pleasure.  At a press conference in Washington, D. C. on October 1, he called the Kyoto Protocol an assault on economic growth, the environment, public safety, science, and human civilization itself, but said that he was not able to comment on the political nature of the decision. 


 


Several commentators suggested that the move was a quid pro quo to the European Union in exchange for Russian entry to the World Trade Organization and visa-free travel for Russian citizens across the European Union (Independent, Oct. 1).  It has also been speculated that the decision to ratify is part of Putins charm offensive to lessen European criticism of his Chechen policies.


 


Although Russian ratification is now likely, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, believed to be an ally of Illarionov on the issue, explained that he expected heated debate on the issue in the Duma.  Outlining the considerations he thought the Duma would take into account, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee, told Interfax news agency, The economic factor would have a decisive role, environmental considerations would come second, and political expediency would matter less (Sept. 30).


 


Moreover, the second chamber of parliament, the Russian Federation Council, seems hostile to the proposal.  The head of the economic policy committee of the Council, Oganes Oganian, told Interfax (Oct. 1), There are a lot of representatives of various business organizations, including aluminum, oil and energy ones, among the senators. These people are opposed to ratifying the document because these organizations will have to fork out for the environment.


 


Kosachev initially suggested that the ratification debate would not take place until December, but there are indications that a vote is planned this month.  Sergei Vasilyev, head of the National Carbon Union, however, told Greenwire (Oct. 1) that, The Duma could slow down the process in order to win concessions from other participant countries.  He went on, It would mean that until the Europeans give valid and reliable guarantees to Russia, they will not have their Kyoto Protocol.


 


The Bush Administrations reaction to the decision was relaxed.  Harlan Watson, the administrations chief climate change negotiator, told The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 1), It was up to Russia to decide what it was going to do. From our point of view, it really didn’t make any difference whether Kyoto entered into force or not.


 


If the Duma approves ratification, the Kyoto Protocol will come into effect ninety days after official notification of Russian ratification is received by the UNFCCC secretariat.  This will be too late for the tenth Conference of the Parties, scheduled for mid-December in Buenos Aires, to become an official Meeting of the Parties. 

Sentiment regarding “the environment” doesn’t seem to be a major factor in voters’ minds as they weigh the decision whether to cast their ballots for President Bush or for John Kerry.

But for those of you still undecided about which candidate will do a better job on Iraq, homeland security, and other issues, you may also want to factor in the candidates’ records and attitudes on environmental issues.  


Bush has been roundly criticized on environmental issues since he took office. But this criticism has largely come from left-leaning environmental activists and their supporters in academia the vast majority of whom didn’t vote for Bush in 2000 and, moreover, probably wouldn’t vote for a Republican under any circumstance. 


When Bush proposed more stringent regulations for arsenic in drinking water   something the two-term Clinton administration never got around to doing the environmental community ran a television ad campaign implying that the president was actually going to permit more arsenic in drinking water.


“May I please have some more arsenic in my water, Mommy,” asked a child in one of the commercials.


John Kerry, in a recent interview with Grist Magazine, also characterized the more stringent arsenic rules as part of an “unbelievable series of backward measures.” 


So I pay no attention to what so-called environmentalists say about Bush. Their attacks usually don’t present the facts fairly and are designed to politicize issues and polarize voters. 


The most notable environmental decision Bush has made so far was his decision to pull the U.S. out of the economic dance-of-death known as the Kyoto protocol, the international treaty on global warming. The president and Kerry actually agree on this issue, although Kerry told Grist that he would like to re-open the treaty’s negotiating process to fix the treaty’s flaws. 


The difference between the candidates is that Bush has rightly raised questions about the “science” underlying global warming hysteria and is not at all interested in an international treaty, whereas Kerry would embrace a treaty an agreement that likely would significantly hamper the U.S. economy if he could do so without paying a heavy political price. 


Bush also gets credit for clamping down on the perpetual regulation machine known as the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA spent the Clinton administration years issuing the most expensive environmental regulations ever air quality standards costing as much as $100 billion per year that will produce no tangible health or environmental benefits and scaring the public about chemicals in the environment.  


But the EPA’s rulemaking process under Bush has been significantly slowed because the administration’s own environmental initiatives on air pollution and mercury from power plants, for example, are opposed by environmentalists. The resulting gridlock has prevented the issuance of costly, junk science-based rules that produce few-to-no benefits to the public. Short of dismantling the EPA in favor of a more rational approach to the environment the preferred solution the president has done the next best thing by bollixing up the EPA rulemaking process.


I don’t think he planned it that way, but I won’t argue with that success. 


As to Kerry, you really only need to know three things about him to see what he’d do on the environment. 


First, Kerry has a 96-percent lifetime voting record on environmental issues as determined by the League of Conservation Voters. That means that Kerry rubber-stamps every piece of environmental legislation that comes down the pike, regardless of its merits or costs. 


Second, in a Kerry administration, I suspect that the decision-making on the environment would be handed over to his wife, Teresa Heinz-Kerry, much the same way the health care issue was handed to Hillary Clinton during the early part of the Clinton administration. The environment is a hot-button issue for Teresa, and I doubt he’d turn down the billionaire who made his presidential campaign possible. 


What that probably means is that environmental extremists will once again have free reign over the EPA.  As head of the $1.2 billion Heinz Foundation, Teresa has given more than $6 million to the Tides Foundation and Tides Center which, in turn, funds groups like GreenpeaceEnvironmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club and millions more to other environmental groups. I would expect Teresa to hand these groups the keys to the EPA, as well. 


Finally, when asked by Grist Magazine  whether his Harley-Davidson motorcycle was an environmental “vice” because motorcycle tailpipe emissions are “worse than cars,” Kerry responded, “I haven’t heard that about my Harley. But if it’s a vice, it’s one I don’t think I can quit. Sorry.” 


Meanwhile, Kerry wants us to take the bus to reduce air pollution. After all, the more of us that do opt for mass transit, the less guilty he can feel about tooling around on his Harley, Teresa’s gas-guzzling luxury yacht and her Gulfstream V jet. 


It may seem unfortunate that the choices on the environment boil down to regulatory gridlock versus a mindless regulatory frenzy, but that is the reality. I know which I prefer. 


Steven Milloy is the publisher of JunkScience.com, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author ofJunk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams(Cato Institute, 2001).

On March 29, 2001, just over two months into his new administration, President Bush announced that the United States would not comply with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which would have led to energy rationing due to its required cuts in carbon emissions, the inescapable byproduct of energy generation. The President made clear his opposition to the unreasonable demands the Kyoto Protocol places on the United States. We will not do anything that harms our economy, he said then.


However, over three years later, the Clinton-era signature remains on this potentially very harmful document. The Bush Administration should move to unsign it.


The continued presence of Americas signature on the Kyoto treaty sends the wrong signal. Sensing ambiguity in the U.S. position, European offi cials continue to press Kyotos case, and are placing immense diplomatic pressure on Russia to ratify, which would bring the Protocol into legal effect, since it would push Kyoto over the necessary threshold of 55 percent of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. This carries considerable risks.


When in Kyoto, do as in Rome


In May 2002, the Bush Administration announced it would unsignthat is, rescind the American signature fromthe Treaty of Rome establishing an International Criminal Court,  which would have exposed American military personnel to politically motivated charges of war crimes (potentially brought by such humanitarian stalwarts as the governments of Cuba, Iran, and Syria). This begs the question: If the United States does not intend to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, why does it refuse to rescind its  1998 signature of it? Unsigning the Treaty of Rome belies the Bush Administrations claim that the United States, as a nonratifying signatory, faces no consequences from the Kyoto Protocol.


The Bush Administration has not stated that the U.S. will comply with Kyotoyet the failure to rescind our signature sends that same message to other countries negotiators.


Unsigning the Rome Treaty but not the Kyoto Protocol suggests that the U.S. intends to adopt Kyoto. This has emboldened the European Union (EU) to lobby Russia to seek the best deal it can while eventual ratifi cation by a future U.S. Senate remains a possibility. Most major EU countries, recognizing that Russia holds all the cards right now, are willing to give Russia major concessionsand the possibility of American ratifi cation places the pressure on Russia to ratify Kyoto fi rst.


Invitation to Litigation


Once it is in effect, other countries will likely use Kyoto to beat up on the U.S.a signatoryat various international fora, even without Senate ratifi cation. Recent litigation by state attorneys general against U.S. power generators and the Administration itself hint at future lawsuits: At least three law review articles have set forth how Third World plaintiffs can use the national signature on the  protocol to sue, under the Alien Tort Claims Act and other statutes, over costs allegedly imposed on them by climatechange. The EU is threatening the use of the World Trade Organizations Shrimp-Turtle precedent to make the case that our failure to match EU energy taxes is either an impermissible advantage (eco-dumping) or an unfair trade barrier. The  U.S. signature on the protocol invites such action.


Status Quo Makes No Sense


The 1972 Vienna Convention on Conventions (Title 18) delineates treaty interpretation, dealing specifically with the issue of a non-ratifying signatory state: a State is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty, until and unless it shall have made its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty, or it has expressed its consent to be bound by the treaty. This is restated by the Law of Foreign Relations of the United States ( 312 of the Restatement 3d). This is expressly why President Bush unsigned the Treaty of Rome.


That requirement is not satisfi ed by verbally disavowing a treaty, while at the same time maintaining ones signature and continuing to send delegations to ongoing negotiations. The Vienna Conventions withdrawal requirement is achieved only by filing an instrument rescinding the signature with the same body to which the signature was communicated.


The Solution


The Bush Administration should formally announce its  intention to rescind the American signature on the Kyoto Protocol. The move would carry no risk. By formally doing what the American and global public believe he has already done, President Bush will surprise no one. And rescinding the signature will remove two possible risks. First, it will take Kyoto off the table and force the world to look again at the issues surrounding global warming alarmism. Second, it will much reduce the chance of litigation to force the U.S. to adopt Kyoto-style energy suppression policies regardless of the Administrations position.


Unsigning the Kyoto Protocol would be consistent with the Presidents correct approach to the Treaty of Rome and reiterate his Administrations willingness to defend American sovereignty and the Constitution against international pressure.


 


Christopher C. Horner (chornerc@cei.org) is a Senior Fellow at CEI and Counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition. Iain Murray (imurray@cei.org) is a Senior Fellow at CEI, where he specializes in the debate over climate change and the use and abuse of science in the political process.


Pincas Jawetz’s argument that the United States economy would benefit by following the path of the Kyoto Protocol’s few adherents (Letters, Tuesday) is logically and factually unsound.


   


Consider his premise: 38 countries of the worldLiechtenstein, Luxembourg, Iceland, the United States, etc.agreed in principle to an energy suppression measure, the Kyoto Protocol.


   


The same measure was refused by 160 other countries: China, Mexico, India, Brazil, South Korea, and the like. Even among the mere 38, an insufficient number agreed to ratify the treaty to bring it into effect according to the agreement’s own formula.



Only the United Kingdom and Sweden among the pre-May European Union-15 nations are actually in compliance. By remaining among the 160-plus countries with no desire to inflict Kyoto on themselves, by Mr. Jawetz’s logic, the United States is going it alone.


 


What of those proud, supposedly economically vibrant few who soldier on “in exasperation” with our refusal to adhere?


 


Other than 10 percent unemployment and next-to-flat economic growth since they undertook this campaign, stubbornly clinging to Kyoto‘s prescriptions seems to be working out just fine.


 


Actually, this experience further dispels the notion that energy suppression paves the road to economic health.


 


Every major economic downturn in the past century was preceded by the increase in energy prices that is Kyoto‘s hallmark. In fact, just wait until the energy rationing really kicks in and the results match pro-Kyoto rhetoric.


 


Claiming that President George H.W. Bush “supported the Kyoto Protocol” is absurd, if consistently so.


 


The Kyoto Protocol is named for the conference at which it was drafted, in December 1997. Thematic talks did not even begin until 1995.


   


President George H.W. Bush was defeated in 1992. If anyone can show me evidence of George H.W. Bush supporting Kyoto, I will show you a Kinko’s copy shop in Abilene, Tex.


 


As to President Clinton, he indeed signed this abominable treaty, but for the remaining three-plus years of his presidency refused to submit it to the Senate for ratification.


 


Mr. Jawetz concludes by menacingly intimating the collapse of the World Trade Organization over the Kyoto differences. In his hypothetical, he lays this at the feet of the United States.


 


This scenario presumes that the WTOa body created to break down discriminatory trade barriersis likely to accept the argument that if EU nations decide to do something remarkably silly to themselves, then the United States must either follow suit or be punished.


 


If any organization that could reach such a conclusion were to collapse, it would be no great loss. Fortunately, it remains as unlikely as the rest of this odd mishmash of Kyotonomics.

There will be NO appreciable CO2 emissions reduction even if Russia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol


Climate analysts at the George Marshall Institute said today there will be no appreciable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions even if Russia adopts the Kyoto Protocol, allowing it to enter into force. Yesterday, several press accounts indicated that Russia may be reversing its position on the treaty.


Russia will benefit from a great wealth transfer as EU funds flow into the country in exchange for rights to Russian CO2 allowances, Institute President William OKeefe said. The tangible effect on carbon dioxide emissions will be non-existent.


O’Keefe said Russia is so far below its allocated emission levels that it will be able to trade its excess to the European Union, who, in turn, will technically meet the Kyoto target but not reduce their CO2 emissions at all.


Russia emitted 1614 million metric tons of CO2 in 2001, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administrations (EIA) 2004 International Energy Outlook. The European Union produced 4123.3 million metric tons of CO2 in 2002 (data from the European Commission, press release, July 15, 2004).


The Kyoto Protocol calls for the European Union to reduce its CO2 emissions by 8% from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. According to the European Commission, 1990 emissions totaled 4245.2 million metric tons, which would require the EU to meet a 3905.5 million metric ton mark by 2008-2012. Credible projections suggest that EU CO2 emission levels will begin rising again, following modest decline from 1990 to 2002.  Russia is required to maintain its 1990 level of emissions in the same timeframe. The EIA puts Russian CO2 emissions in 1990 at 2405 million metric tons, meaning that it need only maintain that same amount. In fact, its 2001 emissions were significantly below that level (by 791 million metric tons). EIA projections call for a modest increase in Russian emissions, but the level will remain well short of the level allowed under the Kyoto Protocol.


The Russians can sell the EU their excess allowances under the emission trading system called for by the Protocol and European emissions of CO2 will rise as they are expected to, OKeefe concluded. The net effect will be minor, at best.

 In a major speech delivered September 14, British Prime Minister Tony Blair detailed his plans to use the British positions as chair of next years G8 summit and president of the European Union during 2005 to put action to prevent global warming back at the top of the international agenda.

 Mr. Blair began his speech by saying, What is now plain is that the emission of greenhouse gasesis causing global warming at a rate that began as significant, has become alarming, and is simply unsustainable in the long-term.  And by long-term I do not mean centuries ahead.  I mean within the lifetime of my children certainly; and possibly within my own.  And by unsustainable, I do not mean a phenomenon causing problems of adjustment.  I mean a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence.


 After laying out the evidence for these assertions, Blair said, Even if there are those who still doubt the science in its entirety, surely the balance of risk for action or inaction has changed.  If there were even a 50% chance that the scientific evidence I receive is right, the bias in favor of action would be clear.  But of course it is far more than 50%.


 And in this case, the science is backed up by intuition.  It is not axiomatic that pollution causes damage.  But it is likely.  I am a strong supporter of proceeding through scientific analysis in such issues.  But I also, as I think most people do, have a healthy instinct that if we upset the balance of nature, we are in all probability going to suffer a reaction.  With world growth, and population as it is, this reaction must increase.


 We have been warned.  On most issues we ask children to listen to their parents.  On climate change, it is parents who should listen to their children.  Now is the time to start.


 According to the prime ministers official spokesman, Blairs plan includes three major goals.  First, Blair intends to seek an international agreement on the science and the threat posed by global warming.  Second, he will seek to obtain agreement on a process to identify the science and technology measures necessary to meet the threat.  And third, he will seek the active involvement of major developing nations, particularly China and India, in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


 The British prime minister also announced plans for a scientific conference preparatory to the G8 meeting: Prior to the G8 meeting itself we propose first to host an international scientific meeting at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter in February.  More than just another scientific conference, this gathering will address the big questions on which we need to pool the answers available from the science:  What level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is self-evidently too much? and What options do we have to avoid such levels?


 Mr. Blair took pains not to personalize the issue as a disagreement with President Bush.  Referring to American concerns over Kyoto, he said, Our efforts to stabilize the climate will need, over time, to become far more ambitious than the Kyoto Protocol.  Kyoto is only the first step, but provides a solid foundation for the next stage of climate diplomacy.  If Russia were to ratify that would bring it into effect.  We know there is disagreement with the U. S. over this issue.  In 1997 the U. S. Senate voted 95-0 in favor of a resolution that stated it would refuse to ratify such a treaty.  I doubt time has shifted the numbers very radically. 


 But the U. S. remains a signatory to the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the U. S. National Academy of Sciences agree that there is a link between human activity, carbon emissions, and atmospheric warming.  Recently the U. S. Energy Secretary and Commercial Secretary jointly issued a report again accepting the potential damage to the planet through global warming.

 On September 13, the day before Prime Minister Blairs speech outlined above, the leader of Britains opposition Conservative Party gave a major speech that accused Blair of not doing enough on global warming.  Michael Howard, M. P., pledged that a future Tory government would do much more to implement policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom and internationally.

 Howard said, The instinct of our prime minister is to lecture people.  But on his watch CO2 emissions have actually risen.  He has set ambitious long-term targets for CO2 emissions reductions, but few people outside government believe that there is a coherent plan for achieving them.


 The Conservative leader also contrasted Blairs failure to persuade the Bush Administration to ratify the Kyoto Protocol with his success in 1992 in persuading President George Bush to attend the Earth Summit and to sign the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.  One of the greatest challenges I faced as Secretary of State for the Environment was to persuade the Americans to participate in the first Earth Summit.  I vividly remember my 24 hours of shuttle diplomacy in Washington before the Rio Summit, ending with me in the White House persuading the Americans not just to attend, but to sign up to the climate change convention, the forerunner of Kyoto.


 Howard then laid out his plans to address global warming if his party were voted into office at the next election.  They include re-asserting [Britains] international leadership, creating a global cap-and-trade emissions scheme, renewing the drive for a diverse renewable energy sector, and re-focusing on increased energy efficiency.  His government would demand that global carbon trading be rigorously policed.  In addition, Howard promised to phase out by 2014 the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which replaced chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration and air conditioning as a result of the Montreal Protocol.

In a press release assessing the state of nuclear power worldwide, the International Atomic Energy Agency regretted the lack of progress on Kyoto.

The relevant section reads, From the viewpoint of the IAEA, no progress was made in 2003 on the Kyoto Protocol, which would help make nuclear powers avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions valuable to investors.  The next round of talks on energy and sustainable development is scheduled for the 13th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in 20062007.

 
A large increase in the supply of energy will be required in coming decades to power economic development, the IAEA recognizes, projecting that to the year 2030 the part nuclear power will play in the global energy supply will first grow and then decrease.
 
The agency estimates a 20 percent increase in global nuclear generation until the end of 2020, followed by a decrease, resulting in global nuclear generation in 2030 that will be only 12 percent higher than in 2002.  Nuclear powers share of global electricity generation is projected at 12 percent in 2030, compared with 16 percent in 2002, the IAEA said.
 
The agency expressed concern that the nuclear expertise that exists today might not be passed on to the next generation of scientists and engineers, now that the rapid nuclear expansion of the 1970s and 1980s has leveled off.

 In contrast to Vice President Al Gores 2000 presidential campaign, references to global warming have been few and far between by the Democratic ticket of Senators John Kerry and John Edwards.  Within one week in August, however, the Kerry campaign published its position on the Kyoto Protocol, which vice presidential nominee John Edwards then contradicted. 

  On August 19 the campaign issued a document aimed at West Virginia and other coal-producing States that promoted coal as a clean energy source.  It states, John Kerry and John Edwards believe that the Kyoto Protocol is not the answer.  The near-term emission reductions it would require of the United States are infeasible, while the long-term obligations imposed on all nations are too little to solve the problem.  Unlike the current Administration, John Kerry and John Edwards will offer an alternative to the Kyoto process that leads the world toward a more equitable and effective answer, while preserving coal miners jobs. 


Less than a week later, on August 24, the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, published an account of Sen. Edwardss visit to the town the day before.  According to the paper, Edwards lamented America’s failure to join the Kyoto treaty.  The last thing this president should have done was walk away from Kyoto, he told the audience.  Perhaps co-incidentally, Wisconsin is not a major coal-producing State, and public opinion there favors policies to address global warming.