Kyoto Media Advisory: December 4, 1997
Poor Countries Still Oppose Energy Starvation Diet
Developing countries continue to signal their unwillingness to sign binding emissions reduction targets in Kyoto. The Group-of-77 developing nations "categorically said no" to US demands that they accept carbon use limits. A delegate from the People’s Republic of China asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT): "Do you expect us to keep our people poor? Is that what you want?" For those who favor a global treaty, the answer is surely "yes." Developing nations seem to be more aware than developed nations that fossil fuel restrictions will cripple them economically.
In exchange for selling their country's economic future down the river, Third World officials are demanding rather substantial compensation from the US. Thus far, the best the US has been able to offer is the opportunity to host the next UN climate conference. The host-country sweepstakes appears to have been won by Argentina. With the other developing countries refusing to budge, prospects for a final treaty acceptable to the US Senate are dimming.
Climate Windfall for Iraq?
The news from Washington, DC continues to be bad for proponents of a global energy restriction regime. At today's CEI "Contrarian Briefing," Mark Kirk, counsel to the Committee on International Relations of the US House of Representatives, reports that House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a number of reservations about the unfolding Kyoto treaty. National sovereignty and the impact of any new greenhouse compliance bureaucracy on American policy are knotty issues that have not been resolved to Congress’ satisfaction.
The US congressional staff participating in the Kyoto conference is accustomed to dealing with truly serious foreign policy issues. And few Clinton-Gore officials have considered how global warming policy might impact other pressing foreign policy considerations. For example, has anyone noticed that the climate treaty -- based as it is on cutting greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels -- could greatly benefit a certain unpopular dictator in the Middle East? That's right, after 1990, Saddam Hussein's greenhouse emissions took a serious hit, and he would have plenty of emission rights for sale under the Clinton-Gore Administration's cap-and-trade proposals.
The US proposals could create what Mark Kirk calls "an enormous property right for rogue states." Kirk points out that other pariah nations such as Iran, North Korea, and Libya would make out like bandits (no pun intended). When congressional staff first asked Undersecretary of State Tim Wirth about this conundrum a few weeks ago in Washington, "he acted like it was the first time this [issue] had been raised." It is becoming increasingly clear that the Clinton-Gore Administration's climate policy is very poorly thought-out.
Honesty is so refreshing. Thanks to Mie Asaoka, director of the Japanese environmental organization Kiko Forum, for expressing the true agenda behind the Kyoto climate conference. We always knew that the impulse behind global energy regulation was Malthusian. Poverty is ecologically sustainable; prosperity is not. Even Malthus himself would be astounded at how his ideas have been elevated on the world stage.
We wonder, though, if the world's poor are aware that poverty is considered a valuable environmental protection device by the green lobby in Kyoto. Here is Ms. Asaoka, in her own words, from an interview in the Daily Yomiuri:
"We must halt the current worldwide trend of mass-production, mass-consumption, and mass-disposal. Unless we understand that preventing global warming means giving up our current lifestyle, we will fail. The industrial sector claims that mass production is a good thing. But consumption is generated, at least to a certain extent, by mass production.
Moreover, we must reconsider our energy consumption. And we must do this in cooperation with the industrial sector. What I am talking about is the concept of learning to be content with less. What we need now is the will to reform Japan's industrial structure. It is extremely difficult to obtain consent from individual manufacturers to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions without revamping Japan's whole industrial structure.
Right after World War II, the Japanese were able to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, however poor they were. It was a lifestyle based on coexistence with nature. If we go back further, it is a notable accomplishment that Japan's unique culture was able to survive intact for 1,000 years. But it seems as though our tradition has vanished during the past 30 years. These changes are a result of the government's irresponsible policy of letting matters take their own course. We should not let the Kyoto convention fail. We must not postpone the implementation of obligatory measures that emerge from the convention."