Punxsutawney Protocol: “World Reaches Warming Pact” Again, Only Not Really

Establishment-press reporting of Kyoto “global warming” treaty negotiations would embarrass even Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day. They laughably trumpet the same nonachievement, conference after conference. Consider last week's front-page, above-the-fold Washington Post story, the introductory paragraph to which read, “[M]ore than 160 countries, including Great Britain, Japan and Russia, reached agreement late last night on a groundbreaking climate control treaty setting mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions” (“160 Nations Agree to Warming Pact,” November 10, 2001).Such promotion is absurd given what actually transpired. And of course, it also followed some now also obligatory disparaging of the U.S. stance in the talks at issue, in this case the “Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties,” COP-7, in Marrakesh. Does all of this sound familiar?

Consider these headlines: “Historic Global Warming Pact Reached” (Associated Press, December 11, 1997, on the original Kyoto session) and “Nations Reach Landmark Global Warming Pact” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 11, 1997); or this summer's “World Agrees on Climate Pact” (Chicago Tribune, July 24, 2001, on COP-6) and “Nations reach a climate accord” (New York Times, July 25, 2001).Sounds like it might be time to stop agreeing and start ratifying. Yet only one covered country has chosen to submit ratification lo these four years. That is Romania, in a clear move to kiss up to the EU it desperately seeks to join. The trouble is that no nation can yet be sure of what it would be getting itself into; they're merely seeing a lot of troubling hints. These propagandistic headlines are therefore pure fiction. Any supposed “agreement” is in truth far from that: specifics remain undrafted, let alone agreed upon, even before individual countries must ratify them.

This one Post lead provides more factual errors, masquerading as editorial bias, than any news story should reasonably contain in its entirety. Consider the subhead's derogation, “U.S. Was on Sidelines in Morocco Talks.” This, regrettably, is not true. Though claiming it will not be bound by the Kyoto Protocol, the U.S. nonetheless refuses to rescind its valid signature on the document — signaling, at best, continued engagement and a plea for less oppressive terms. At worst, it indicates that ratification may remain a possibility.

The U.S. sent a full delegation to Marrakesh, participated in key discussions, and, as anyone making even one inquiry would know, advocated longstanding negotiating positions through allied delegations. For example (and environmentalist groups fumed about this throughout the conference, even if it doesn't suit the reporting tastes of the Post), Canadian delegates promoted U.S. ideas for a “clean development mechanism” whereby covered countries receive some credit for energy projects developed overseas.Further, even proponents of Kyoto assert that assuming their hypothesis of man's impact on the climate is true, this agreement — if fully and perfectly implemented — would affect temperatures so slightly as not to be measurable (estimated at a six-year delay of a three-one-hundredths of a degree increase). Would such a deal represent, to any reasonable mind, “climate control”? Or does it merely signify a desperately-sought affirmation of the belief — long advocated, through theories running the gamut from a “man-made ice age” to global warming — that too many people exist who are “killing the planet”?

Regardless, the Post and other establishment press seem to advocate — or fall for — the routine charade of “groundbreaking agreement.” Anyone attending these conferences knows that whatever olio can be cobbled at the eleventh hour is hailed as a groundbreaking achievement closing the deal, etc., details to be hammered out later. Year in and year out, one negotiating session follows another. One “climate agreement” is reported after another, though all that's accomplished is a slight narrowing of terms. Given the actual treaty language's persistent vagaries, any implementable, enforceable “agreement” remains far off.

In truth, the Kyoto Protocol set forth broad language binding 38 countries to reduce particular “greenhouse gas” (GHG) emissions, by differing percentages each, by dates certain. It called for emission-credit-trading regimes to enable this even though, rhetoric notwithstanding, these remain undefined. It called for international economic sanctions, which are still unstated. So far, all they've agreed to for cases of noncompliance is a more restrictive emission level for the promised, and as-yet-unagreed-upon, “next compliance period.” The key question — “Or what?” — now highlights the folly of this anti-growth measure.

Negotiations in The Hague in November 2000 made clear that either our negotiating partners in bad faith sought to change the terms of the agreement in mid-course — or there never was agreement.

There, our European allies insisted that when, for instance, Protocol Article 3 says GHG sinks “shall be used to meet the commitments under this article” (“sinks” are forestry and land-management practices sucking greenhouse gases from the atmosphere), they meant, “but not very much.”

The U.S. clearly intended “to the extent we are able to reduce GHGs through that method.” No EU flexibility, given that this would mitigate U.S. pain — therefore, no deal. We “dropped out.” And most of such questions remain unanswered.

As still-scarce details take form, Kyoto is increasingly obviously designed to fail (the particular charade of such dysfunction requiring another essay entirely). Greens and their cheerleaders might find a more appropriate announcement in Chevy Chase's classic Saturday Night Live offering: “This just in, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead.”