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US Surrender is Not Enough to Save COP-6 from Collapsing
The UNFCCC’s Sixth Conference of the Parties ended in disarray on November 25 in the Hague with no agreement on the Kyoto Protocol’s major unresolved issues. Until the last few days of the negotiations, the United States and the European Union were deadlocked over the use of carbon sinks to meet emissions targets.
Then, President Bill Clinton and United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair initiated a process that was expected to lead to a deal. US Under Secretary of State Frank Loy dutifully gave up the American position on sinks.
But to the surprise of delegates who stayed an extra day in order to share in the successful outcome, it all came apart at the last minute. When UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott took news of America’s near-total capitulation to European demands to his fellow ministers in the European Union, they immediately rejected the terms of surrender. The conference then dissolved into expressions of outrage and blame-gaming.
Trans-channel name-calling continued this week in Britain and France. According to a Reuters story (November 28), Prescott blamed French Environment Minister and head of the French Green Party Dominique Voynet for the debacle and said that she was too tired to understand the complex issues.
Voynet responded by telling French radio that Prescott’s behavior was “mediocre and shabby….He does no service either to his image or mine, nor does he do any service to the cause of the European Union.”
Blair and French President Jacques Chirac immediately lined up behind their own ministers. And with gusto and glee the tabloid press in London and Paris turned the brouhaha into a rousing Franco-British food fight.
A New York Times story (November 26) opined, “Many environmental groups argued that the United States had underestimated the strength of the European Green movement and its determination to reduce the use of fossil fuels drastically.” Jennifer Morgan, climate campaign director for the World Wildlife Fund, was quoted as explaining that, “The United States pushed too hard and too far. They didn’t leave the time or trust to get a deal in the end.”
However, Christopher Horner, counsel for the Cooler Heads Coalition and an NGO participant at COP-6, had a different explanation. According to Horner, “The US did everything it could to capitulate to European demands, to the point of embarrassment. The US pre-emptively capitulated on the use of nuclear and hydro-electric power and then agreed to reduce the use of sinks by at least three-quarters from its initial proposal.” One senior congressional official noted that the early concessions by the US and subsequent rejection by the EU left the US “negotiating with ourselves.”
The drawn-out fight over carbon sinks meant that no progress toward agreement was made on the other major contentious issues. These include emissions trading, compliance and enforcement, and all the payoff schemes to developing countries.
Failure to wrap up the Kyoto Protocol’s loose ends, as was promised last year at COP-5 in Bonn, has forced the UNFCCC’s Secretariat to turn the next meeting of the subsidiary bodies, scheduled for next May and June in Bonn, into “COP-6, Part II,” or “COP-6.5.” It was agreed to hold COP-7 in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2001.
Chirac Reveals Grander Agenda
French President Jacques Chirac used the current French presidency of the European Commission to deliver a major address to the delegates at COP-6 in the Hague on November 20. Besides scolding the United States for its stonewalling planetary salvation, he revealed a far grander ambition for the Kyoto Protocol than merely reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“For the first time, humanity is instituting a genuine instrument of global governance, one that should find a place within the World Environmental Organization which France and the European Union would like to see established,” said Chirac.
Such rhetoric exposes a darker agenda behind the professed agenda of many of the Kyoto Protocol’s proponents. “It has been clear to us for some time, emphasized by the outright ignoring of recent scientific developments that betray its underlying theory: Kyoto was not aimed at addressing any real environmental threat,” said David Rothbard of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. “At least Chirac was honest about it.”
James Glassman, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of TechCentralStation.com, wrote in the Wall Street Journal (November 28, 2000), that when he arrived at the Hague conference he “discovered quickly that the real objective of the Europeans was not to reduce greenhouse gas emissions world-wide but to inflict economic pain on Americans, curry favor with greenish constituents and emerge with a halo.”
Is the US Senate Softening?
There appears to be a softening of opposition in the US Senate to policies to control energy emissions. According to the Christian Science Monitor (November 27, 2000), “Senator Larry Craig (R) of Idaho–long a global warming skeptic–noted here that his views were shifting toward accepting the fact of human-induced climate change due to what he sees as increasingly compelling scientific evidence.” Another Senate skeptic not mentioned in the article is Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), who said at the Hague that he believes that the science is coalescing.
Several opponents of the Kyoto Protocol were defeated in the November 7 elections as well, including Senators John Ashcroft, Rod Grams, Spence Abraham, and Slade Gorton. In addition, several new Senators are expected to be fervent hard-left supporters of the Protocol, including Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey), Hillary Clinton (D-New York), and Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota).
Norway Prefers More Electricity
Earlier this year, we reported that the Norwegian government became the first government in the world to fall over its support of the Kyoto Protocol. Now, the new Norwegian government has approved the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant and has cleared the way for development of two additional plants. These plants are needed to meet growing consumer demand since environmentalists have blocked further hydro-electric projects.
Environmental activists naturally were livid. “With this decision Norway, together with the United States, will become the country in the world which is furthest away from reaching it international goals,” said Lars Haltbrekken, a member of an environmental lobby group.
EIA Predicts Higher Energy Use
The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration predicts much faster growth in US energy use and carbon dioxide emissions for the next two decades in its annual energy outlook compared to last year’s predictions. EIA has raised its electricity demand forecast significantly. The agency now forecasts an annual growth rate in electricity demand of 1.8 per cent between now and 2020. Last year, EIA predicted an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent.
In other forecasts, EIA expects petroleum prices to begin falling in 2001 and natural gas prices to decline within two years. Over the long term, according to a November 29 article in Congressional Green Sheets Newsroom, EIA predicts that oil and gas prices will be held down by technological advances in exploration and development, even though demand will continue to increase.
Taxing Babies to Save the Planet
Brian C. O’Neill of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies and Lee Wexler of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis calculate the negative value of a newborn child in terms of “increased CO2 abatement costs necessitated by an additional birth” in a recent “scholarly” article. It appears in the November issue of the journal Climatic Change.
These costs include, “the economic activity of the additional child and its descendants will produce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the amount of climate change, and the climate-related damages to society,” according to the authors. Their calculations put these costs at $4,400 per birth in the developing countries and $28,800 per birth in the developed countries over the period 1995-2100.
The authors worry about these “costs or benefits associated with the birth of a child that fall on society but are not considered in the parents’ fertility decisions.” To help parents take these costs into consideration, O’Neill and Wexler propose government action. They claim that, “Externalities cause inefficiencies in the economy, and their existence is often viewed as grounds for intervention in order to improve total social welfare.” So, “In principle… efficiency would be served by imposing a tax on births equal to the net value of the externality.”
They also claim that, “The existence of a greenhouse externality strengthens the case for population policies that lower fertility,” and that, “A hypothetical social planner acting in the interests of all parents could increase social welfare by dictating a fertility rate different from the rate parents would choose on their own.”
Andrew Dlugolecki, director of CGNU, one of the world’s six biggest insurance groups, and an advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme, has come up with one of the more hilarious recent global warming scare stories.
According to Dlugolecki, global warming will bankrupt the world by 2065, due to the damages caused by global warming induced natural disasters. “Climate change will have an effect, our studies show us, in new areas and new intensities, and we know in insurance that new intensities can produce accelerating damage at an exponential rate,” he said.
Dlugolecki claims that property damage due to natural disasters is rising by 10 percent per year, but admits that, “Most of that is not yet due to climate change.” Indeed many studies have shown that this increase is entirely due to greater economic development in vulnerable areas.
Nonetheless and astonishingly, Dlugolecki calculates that, “At the current rate of growth of damage of 10 percent a year, we will actually exceed the world’s GDP growth of 3 percent a year by the year 2065.”
So if this increase isn’t due to global warming why does Dlugolecki invoke it? Because global warming seems to be the most captivating political argument for subsidies at present. “We’re beginning to run out of money in the insurance industry,” whines Dlugolecki.
Reiter Responds to Epstein
In the August issue of Scientific American, Paul Epstein claimed that global warming was to blame for several diseases ranging from malaria to West Nile virus to hantavirus. Paul Reiter, Chief of the Entomology Section of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dengue Branch, has replied in a letter in the December issue. According to Reiter, malaria was rampant in England during the Little Ice Age when temperatures were much cooler. “Climate is not the dominant factor in malaria’s prevalence or its distribution,” said Reiter.
Reiter’s opinion of Epstein as a scientist is low. “Nearly all of Paul R. Epstein’s inferences in “Is Global Warming Harmful to Health?”–about the causes of the recent spread of Aedes aegypti and dengue, the increasing prevalence of malaria at altitude, future ‘dramatic’ increases in the disease throughout the world, the risk of yellow fever in the Andes, the outbreak of West Nile virus in New York, and so on–are based on intuition, not science. Serious public health problems cry out to be addressed seriously. Epstein’s reveries amount to a comedy of errors.”
Epstein responded that the mainstream scientists (whoever they are) agree with him and then proceeded to repeat his litany of horrors, without addressing Reiter’s objections.
British Floods Bring More Hysteria