Industrialized nations have tentatively agreed to a global warming protocol covering six "greenhouse gases" -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. The US target would be 7 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, forcing US emissions more than 30 percent below what they otherwise are projected to be in 2010. Japan’s target was set at 6 percent, and the European Union’s was said to be 8 percent.
UN officials promised the final text of a Kyoto Protocol by late evening on December 10, but few expect this deadline to be met after experiencing many false alarms. The final details are still in doubt as of this writing, with developing nations still uneasy over key provisions affecting their interests.
The Clinton-Gore Administration is heading for a dramatic showdown with the US Senate. The energy use curbs needed to comply with the climate treaty are far deeper than expected, though emissions trading and carbon "sink" concepts are included to disguise the pain.
Already, available details about the Kyoto Protocol have angered key US Senators. "The position of the United States continues to drift farther and farther from the US Senate baseline of S. Res. 98, the Byrd-Hagel resolution," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, "...it’s obvious that [to the Vice President] ‘flexibility’ is defined as ‘make a deal at any cost.’"
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott also lashed out at the Administration. In a letter to Sen. Hagel, leader of the Senate’s observer group in Kyoto, Sen. Lott expressed "amazement" at the Administration’s blatant disregard of the Byrd-Hagel resolution. "Recent developments in Kyoto have only added to the bleak prospects for Senate ratification," states the letter.
The Majority Leader emphasized five criteria the Kyoto Protocol must adhere to: no erosion of American sovereignty, no hidden taxes, no loss of American jobs, no disadvantage to American business, and no special advantages to the Third World. "The treaty under discussion appears to fail on all five counts," he observed.
Opposition to the climate treaty is not limited to Republicans. Sen. Hagel reports that a distressed Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, asked him to deliver a strongly-worded message to State Department lead negotiator Stu Eisenstat. One of Sen. Byrd’s chief worries is that the Administration will try to withhold the Kyoto Protocol from Senate ratification until a much later date. Lacking the votes now, the climate treaty could remain in limbo for several years. But this tactic would antagonize key Senators who President Clinton must work with on other matters.
Latest Protocol Draft Riddled with Flaws
Today CEI released "A Brief Contrarian Critique and Analysis of the Draft Kyoto Protocol." Based on the latest draft available, dated December 9, we identified several objections to fine print in the treaty language, summarized below. These considerations will no doubt factor into the global warming debate in Washington.
1. Unacceptable Energy Taxes on the US
The Clinton-Gore Administration's climate treaty proposal for a "trading umbrella" (US, Japan, Russia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) represents a global energy tax levied on the American people via their fuel and electricity bills.
In the draft Protocol, the "Clean Development Mechanism" and its associated "user fees" [Art. 14.8] are still another form of global energy taxes. This provision constitutes a major step toward granting the UN its long sought independent taxation authority, allowing an international bureaucracy to impose levies on US companies and consumers.
2. Does Not Comply with Byrd-Hagel Resolution
Draconian energy use reduction targets are on the table, measures that will harm the American economy and export US jobs. The Clinton-Gore trading umbrella scheme would force American industry to fund its competitors in Russia and the former Soviet republics.
Third World participation is only garnered through the voluntary "Clean Development Mechanism," whereby financial aid and technology are transferred to developing countries -- who will not be held to the same energy restriction timetables as the US.
3. Treaty Amendment Process Violates US Sovereignty
Articles 22 and 23 of the draft Protocol states that future climate treaty commitments, approved by three-fourths of the parties, shall be "adopted only with the written consent of the Party concerned." The failure to clarify that the "Party concerned" is the nation state and that consent means the satisfaction of the constitutional requirements of that state would seem to bypass US Senate ratification requirements for treaty obligations.
The draft text stipulates that "No reservations may be made to this Protocol," [Art. 27] further isolating the climate treaty from democratic procedures.
4. Threatens World Economic Growth
Article 2 of the draft Protocol requires nations to promote sustainable development through:
* "protection and enhancement of [carbon] sinks" [Art. 2.1.a..i] This provision along with Art. 3.5 on "land-use change" provides for the expansion of land-use controls and forestry restrictions.
* "sustainable forms of agriculture" [Art. 2.1.a..iii] Implied here is the restriction of fertilizers, pesticides, and biotechnology, with negative consequences for the world’s ability to produce food.
* "reduction and phasing out of market imperfections, fiscal incentives, tax and duty exemptions" [Art 2.1.a.v] Under this provision, nations would have to raise taxes on currently untaxed activities as well as raise tariff barriers against certain imports. International trade flows are threatened by protectionism disguised as climate change prevention. Economists have no means of making the vague "market imperfection" concept precise -- as worded, this is an open-ended invitation for mischief.
* Nations are obligated to pursue regulation of aviation and marine bunker fuels through international agencies [Art 2.2], suggesting further restraints on international trade, transportation and tourism.