Vol. VIII, No. 3
Illarionov Explains Russian Position on Kyoto Protocol in Washington
Andrei Illarionov, chief economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterated that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol “under present circumstances” at a press conference in Washington, D. C. on January 30 sponsored by the International Council for Capital Formation. Illarionov gave a masterful presentation that was more a policy briefing than a press conference. Lasting more than an hour, he used slides to illustrate in detail the scientific and economic issues involved in Russian ratification.
Illarionov said that, “The Kyoto Protocol is based on technological illusions” and flawed science. He showed that even moderate economic growth of 4 percent per year would put Russia over its 2008-12 Kyoto limits by 2017 and remarked that Russia’s economy had been growing much more quickly than that for the past several years.
Although European Union Commission projections show that only two EU members are on course to meet their Kyoto targets, Illarionov rejected the claim that Russia could benefit by selling emission credits to the EU by pointing out that the EU directive requires that credits be bought first from the EU’s new central European members, then from the Ukraine, and last from Russia. The potential EU demand for credits is less than the potential supply from central European nations and the Ukraine.
In response to persistent questions, Illarionov said that the Russian government would base its ratification decision on Russia’s national interests and added that non-ratification would also be protecting the interests of the rest of the world. Since the European Union, Japan, and Canada would suffer the most from the Kyoto Protocol going into force, they should be most grateful if Russia decides not to ratify, Putin concluded. With the United States unlikely to ratify, the protocol cannot go into force without Russia.
Spain Wants to Reopen EU Debate
The Spanish government on January 26 stated publicly that it wants to open a European Union debate on whether to retain the directive implementing the Kyoto Protocol. “It would do no good to seek to comply with environmental commitments if it brings on unemployment and the relocation of businesses,” Energy Secretary Jose Folgado told reporters.
“If at an EU level there is a call for studying flexibility in this area, it would be a matter that countries would have to look at together,” he continued. Folgado added that Spain would continue to look for a way to apply its Kyoto limits—emissions of 15 percent above 1990 levels—without harming industry.
Under the EU’s umbrella agreement, Spain’s target is higher than the EU-wide Kyoto target of 8 percent below 1990 levels. According to the EU Commission, on current trends Spain will be far over its 2008-12 target. The fact that a country with such a generous allowance should be seeking to renegotiate it underlines just how difficult reconciling the agreement and economic growth will be for Europe.
EU Commissioners Entrench
Despite having no responsibility for the environment, energy, or relations with Russia, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen felt able to opine on the issue of Russia’s refusal to ratify Kyoto when addressing a German Parliamentary hearing on January 28.
He said, “There are signs of a political link between finalizing the WTO negotiations and Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. In political contacts it has been noted that one could see it as a political package and I'm quite confident that on both issues we will see movement [in the first half of 2004].” Verheugen went on to suggest that although there was no “formal, legal” link between the two issues, Russia itself saw the two as related. “I understand it as an attempt to get us to relax some of our demands for Russian WTO entry and then to compensate for that by signing the Kyoto Protocol,” he speculated.
Meanwhile, EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom strongly criticized Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and the Spanish government for “undermining” Europe's commitment to Kyoto.
Briefing journalists on January 30, Wallstrom defended the Kyoto Protocol and said she remains convinced that Russia would ratify the agreement. Referring to Palacio’s comments about the economic folly of abiding by Kyoto when the rest of the world had repudiated the agreement (see last issue), Wallstrom said, “I find it astonishing at a time when we are getting industry on board and have an active policy…politicians start to dither. Now is not the time to undermine our policy.” (Reuters, Environmental News Service)
World Bank Will Not Stop Funding Oil and Coal Projects
Top management at the World Bank have rejected a recommendation that the bank stop funding all oil and coal projects in developing countries, according to the Financial Times (Feb. 3). “The Extractive Industries Review,” which was commissioned by the bank and took two years to complete, had recommended that the World Bank cancel all funding for oil and coal projects in order to lower global carbon dioxide emissions.
A draft management response obtained by the Financial Times concluded that, “Adopting this policy would not be consistent with the World Bank Group mission of helping to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world.” The paper also reported that environmental pressure groups were upset.
Friends of the Earth Sets Up Shakedown of ExxonMobil
In a press release dated January 29, environmentalist pressure group Friends of the Earth revealed its plans to extort money from ExxonMobil for conducting legal business.
The organization claimed that its research showed that, “ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company, has caused some five per cent of global, man-made, climate changing carbon dioxide emissions over the last 120 years,” which would have “significant implications for Exxon Mobil’s legal exposure and its shareholders.”
The release went on, “Friends of the Earth commissioned two studies of ExxonMobil, which trades as Esso in the UK. The studies showed the company and its predecessors, caused 4.7 to 5.3 percent of the world's man-made carbon dioxide emissions between 1882 and 2002-through its operations and the burning of its products. The company's lifetime carbon dioxide emissions have been around 20.3 billion tons, about three times current annual global emissions from fossil fuels (and about 13 times annual U. S. emissions). UN scientists warned in 1996, that man-made pollution was having a discernible influence on the global climate. Seven out of the 10 worst years for ExxonMobil's emissions have occurred since this warning.”
Friends of the Earth’s Director, Tony Juniper, made the threat explicit, saying, “This global warming report should send shivers through the boardrooms of oil companies across the world. For the first time, the long-term impact of one company on climate change has been identified and assessed. This brings closer the day when the victims of climate change can take legal action against ExxonMobil for the damage its activities have caused and will cause in the future. ExxonMobil and other oil companies should not stick their heads in the sand like the tobacco companies that knew the harmful impacts of their product and ultimately paid the price.”
The release also stated baldly that the reason for targeting ExxonMobil was because of its refusal to pay obeisance to the environmental gods: “Friends of the Earth chose ExxonMobil for an assessment because it has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law.”
Wind Turbines More Deadly to Birds than Thought
According to a new study reported in the Oakland Tribune (Jan. 30), wind turbines have proved more deadly to avian life in the Altamont Pass region of California than previously thought. The study also suggests that a 1998 plan to reduce fatalities by replacing older machines will not work.
The Tribune says that, “The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates that about 500 birds of prey are killed by wind farms in the Altamont each year, including red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and golden eagles. Previous estimates, based in part on studies paid for by wind farm operators, put the number at between 160 and 400 raptors a year.”
The study also found that the “repowering” plan, thought to be more bird-friendly by reducing the total number of wind turbines and providing handy perches, would not achieve its goals as the modern machines could prove to be more lethal than those they would replace.
“Repowering would drastically reduce the number of wind turbines, but result in a slight net increase in the total area "swept" by the larger machines' longer blades. The study concluded that bird deaths are tied more closely to this factor than the total number of turbines-a finding that contradicts an earlier, industry-sponsored study.
“The study also found that existing wind turbines with tubular towers killed birds at a higher rate than models with lattice towers, and that siting new turbines to avoid bird kills may be difficult.
“Observers found raptors were attracted to prey such as ground squirrels, gophers, and rabbits that make their homes around wind turbines. Different species of raptors employ varied hunting methods, so what helps one bird-not placing wind turbines on ridge tops, for example-may harm another, the study said.”
Hockey Stick Update from McIntyre and McKitrick
On January 22, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre posted the following update on Professor McKitrick’s website:
“Despite the long quiet on this page, the past 7 weeks have been very busy for us. A number of people have written to ask about progress on Part II, while others have interpreted the 7-week gap as a sign that maybe we ran out of material. No, there is a lot of material, and the challenge has been to sift through it and put it into coherent form. There are now some new journals involved in handling material that arose from our paper, and we have held back releasing any of the Part II contents connected to these review processes.
“Professor Mann's response focuses on the role of 3 (out of 22) key indicators available in the 15th century portion of the data base. His calculations show that without these series the MBH98 results would look like ours, and his assertion is that we improperly "omitted" the series in question. Our response will establish that the series in question are in fact inadmissible. Of course, the discovery that the 1998 conclusions rest so sensitively on only 3 series already points to the lack of robustness of this famous graph. But there is much more to be said, when the time comes.”
The entire controversy can be accessed at http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html.
Return to Global Cooling Alarmism
Following the derision that greeted former Vice President Al Gore’s pronouncements on global warming during the coldest snap for many years, environmental alarmists have been quick to revive long-buried claims of an imminent ice age (caused by global warming this time).
According to a report in London’s Independent (Jan. 25), “Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming, new research suggests. A study, which is being taken seriously by top government scientists, has uncovered a change ‘of remarkable amplitude’ in the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic…. The development-described as ‘the largest and most dramatic oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments’, by the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which led the research-threatens to turn off the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe's weather mild.”
The Independent drew comparison with the Younger Dryas period, saying, “This froze Britain in continuous permafrost, drove summer temperatures down to 10C and winter ones to -20C, and brought icebergs as far south as Portugal. Europe could not sustain anything like its present population. Droughts struck across the globe, including in Asia, Africa and the American west, as the disruption of the Gulf Stream affected currents worldwide.”
The newspaper eventually revealed, “Some scientists say that this is the ‘worst-case scenario’ and that the cooling may be less dramatic, with the world's climate "flickering" between colder and warmer states for several decades. But they add that, in practice, this would be almost as catastrophic for agriculture and civilization.” However, no mention was made of earlier research indicating that the strength of the Gulf Stream has varied considerably in the past, possibly cyclically.
R.I.P., John Daly
The Cooler Heads Coalition was deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of John Daly, custodian of the invaluable web site, Still Waiting for Greenhouse, on January 29.
John’s daughter, Rachel, posted the following on the site (<http://www.john-daly.com>):
“It is with deep sadness that the Daly Family have to announce the sudden death of John Daly. Condolences may be sent to John's e-mail account (email@example.com). As a lasting tribute to John, we…are endeavouring to keep this web site not only active, but also up to date. If anyone is able to contribute to this in any way, please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and type “Rachel” in the subject heading.”
THE COOLER HEADS COALITION
Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Americans for Tax Reform
American Legislative Exchange Council
American Policy Center
Association of Concerned Taxpayers
Center for Security Policy
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Defenders of Property Rights
Frontiers of Freedom
George C. Marshall Institute
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Center for Public Policy Research
Pacific Research Institute
60 Plus Association
Small Business Survival Committee