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Meet the New Kyoto, Same as the Old Kyoto
Meet the New Kyoto, Same as the Old Kyoto
July 24, 2001
Horner Dispatch from the Bonn Climate Negotiations
Now, Let’s Get Serious
Bonn -- So, an historic agreement in the Bonn, Germany negotiations over how to implement the Kyoto “global warming” treaty or, what that document specifically requires? Let’s review this breathlessly reported achievement, described through chief New Zealand delegate Peter Hodgson’s distorted sense of proportion as “probably the most comprehensive and difficult agreement in world history.”
Negotiators addressed specifics of some among the scores of Kyoto provisions, and some of those resulted in “agreement.” Notwithstanding the absence of any “comprehensive” detailing of specifics, however, the bulk of those agreements actually consist of vague palliatives with a promise to continue talking about the issue. That is, for the most part there were merely agreements to agree at a later date. Just feel the earth move.
Why we are told of significant ground broken is actually quite illuminating into the farcical process, and Orwellian EU pettiness. In order to claim victory the EU did indeed abandon rigidity on certain issues that until this week they maintained were essential for the treaty to possess “environmental integrity”. Indeed, intransigent insistence upon contractual revisionism led to the most recent talks in The Hague collapsing last November. At that time the EU sensed desperation among the U.S. team whose leader Al Gore, it was becoming clear, would likely not prevail in his courtroom challenge to the presidential election results. They rejected U.S. pleas that countries be permitted to use “sinks” (forests etc. soaking up greenhouse gases), and trading in greenhouse gas “credits”, to a significant degree to meet their treaty obligations, as clearly contemplated in-and-by Kyoto.
The U.S., having reiterated this understanding, admittedly then offered far more in an attempt to grab a parting deal. Soon they realized that the EU would accept no terms of surrender other than absolute, and the talks stalled. The EU crowed that the U.S. sought to degrade the treaty’s “environmental integrity” by cleverly seeking some market mechanisms -- though the American objective had merely remained pursuing the supposed goal of reducing greenhouse gas concentrations while the science develops over whether that is advisable and if so to what degree.
Today, the EU abandoning those demands is “a worthwhile price to pay,” per the EU Environment Minister, presumably because now it does not involve concessions to that wretched U.S. This despite EU childishness having chased the world’s largest economy, and thus largest emitter of greenhouse gases, out of the deal. For that we can only be thankful, while considering how instructive this lesson should be regarding the EU.
Other lessons from this experience:
· Allies Japan, Canada and Australia demonstrated no faith in U.S. promises of a Kyoto alternative emerging as soon as three months from now. Despite pleas to hold tight in the name of more equitably distributing some form of “no regrets” obligations. Unlike Kyoto this proposal would likely include the bulk of the world’s population, and likely greater emission reductions with far fewer human consequences. Yet they abandoned and embarrassed President Bush.
· When claiming to abandon a framework, abandon it. Walking the talk of “abandonment” and removing our name from that which we proclaimed dead would have made clear we will not be pressured into Kyoto. There would have been little motivation to pursue this ad hoc session, and the rest of the world would take seriously our assurances of pursuing an achievable, reasonable, compromise. Instead, there remains a valid, legally obtained U.S. signature on file at the UN in New York, committing us to Kyoto. That is not the same as ratification, but it does carry international obligations, until some dispositive step is taken to notify the world that that document no longer bears the U.S. imprimatur. Rhetoric doesn’t count. The President can simply rescind the signature the same way it was created. We (CHC) pleaded for this step, and why the Administration refused is mystifying. That they refused must be learned as a mistake.
· The next step is clear. The U.S. asserts that its “membership” as an Annex I country -- to a treaty which it has no intention of inflicting on its citizenry – now impedes other countries from doing that which they desire: bring Kyoto into effect through countries ratifying Kyoto representing at least 55% of the covered emissions. The U.S. thus rescinds its signature, permitting those countries to move forward expeditiously, removing over one-third of that required for Kyoto to go into effect. The U.S. will proceed with that to which it has committed, continuing the world’s foremost investment in knowledge and understanding of the climate system and Man’s possible impact.
EU countries will naturally instead fabricate further reasons to continue their own four-year boycott of ratifying Kyoto, once they tire of the ritual hysteria accompanying any responsible U.S. behavior toward this maddening effort at energy suppression. Should U.S. opposition politicians join the EU shrillness, prior to actually rescinding the signature the President of course reserves the right to ask for a Senate ratification vote. His political supporters must understand, however: abstain. The Constitution specifically contemplates not all Senators voting on every treaty, requiring in the relevant section, unlike elsewhere, that two-thirds of those Senators voting yields ratification.
Expose the complainers’ cheap virtue of demanding something they presume will never be ratified – most Republicans would vote “nay,” while most Democrats assure us they’d save the planet if only the mean Republicans would let them. Let those who will posture, bring the abhorrent wealth transfer to the Senate floor, and observe as they scratch their heads as the fall guys fail to show. Watch as the document is pulled from the floor, or loses outright. Suddenly, that which is religion has become a matter for serious deliberation. Watch as the headline reads “Democrats kill Kyoto.”