The Cuddly Europeans Threaten Climate Penalties

The Europeans may harp on climate change, but the U.S. actually has done better at slowing emissions growth without ratifying the Kyoto protocol. No matter. First the Europeans wrote Kyoto to their benefit, choosing the date so they could claim credit for the closure of inefficient East German industries and Great Britain’s shift to gas as a major energy source. Now Germany’s Social Democrats want to penalize American exports if the U.S. does not comply with European climate dictates.

Reports the International Herald Tribune:

The Social Democrats are calling for sanctions on energy-intensive U.S. export products if the Bush administration continues to obstruct international agreements on climate protection, the party’s leading environmental expert said Tuesday.

The move, after the United Nations climate conference last week in Bali, Indonesia, has won strong support from the Greens and other leftist groupings in the European Parliament. Those factions will renew their bid to impose such levies when the Parliament reconvenes next month.

It also signals a big effort by the Social Democrats to take the initiative on the environment and perhaps reshape it as a foreign policy issue that could affect relations between Berlin and Washington.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the lead on climate change, both domestically and internationally, leaving her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, frustrated. The opposition Greens have also lost ground on an issue they had long dominated. But with three important state elections next year, the Social Democrats, still floundering in the opinion polls, are revamping their program to stem the decline of public support, party officials say.

I eagerly await the next Social Democratic proposal to penalize the Chinese and Indians for not subjecting themselves to Kyoto. And then the measure against the rest of the Europeans for not complying with Kyoto, despite all of their rhetorical fervor to the contrary.

But I won’t be holding my breath.