Exclusive Report: U.S. Rebuffs Europe at Climate Conference

This special report was prepared by a staff member who accompanied the congressional delegation.

Early last month, several Republican senators, House members and aides traveled to Milan, Italy, for the ninth round of international global climate negotiations.

Despite heavy criticism from European officials and radical environmentalists, the Republican delegation declared Kyoto, and similar energy suppression policies being advanced in the Senate, absolutely dead in the United States, while staunchly defending American prosperity and growth.

Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, led the congressional delegation, and was the principal target of green extremists and bureaucrats from the European Union. During the conference, staffers from the National Environmental Trust (NET) displayed what amounted to “wanted” posters of the senator throughout the conference center.

The poster featured Inhofe’s picture, with his now famous quote declaring global warming, as defined by environmentalists, “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” “That’s the first time the environmentalists have ever quoted me accurately,” Inhofe quipped. (Inhofe’s classic climate speech is available in two parts — Part I here; Part II here.)

NET also handed out fliers depicting Inhofe, Senators Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) and Craig Thomas (R.-Wyo.), who were also part of the U.S. delegation, as the “Three Blind Mice.” NET accused the senators of doing the bidding of coal and mining interests while ignoring the scientific “consensus” on global warming. “I want to get this framed,” Sen. Thomas joked.

The senators, along with Representatives Chris Cannon (R.-Utah) and Fred Upton (R.-Mich.), met with several environmental groups, including NET, to discuss energy policy and global warming. Sen. Inhofe asked the groups to explain their energy policy. NET President Phil Clapp avoided the question, providing instead a rambling, confused exposition on U.S. energy policy over the last 30 years.

Sen. Thomas asked, “So what is with you people? You don’t want coal, you don’t want natural gas, you don’t want oil, and now I see you don’t want wind power. How do you propose to fuel the American economy?”

Clapp responded by saying that the American economy can be more efficient through greater use of renewable energy (though, apparently, not wind) and that, in fact, EU countries were four times more efficient than the United States. To which Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), another member of the delegation, responded: “You’re telling me that France and Germany, which have double-digit unemployment, and stagnating economies, are more efficient than the U.S.? That’s insanity. It’s just plain wrong. America is the world leader in energy technologies.”

The meeting with environmental groups was tame in comparison to a meeting the following day with the European delegation. As Sen. Inhofe explained the U.S. position on Kyoto, EU officials rudely snickered and laughed aloud. “You can laugh and smirk and continue to ignore scientific facts about global warming,” Inhofe said, “but by regulating CO2, you’re putting heavy shackles on your economies. You’re hurting the poor in your own countries.”

To their obvious displeasure, Sen. Inhofe reminded the Europeans that, according to their own Environment Ministry, only two EU countries will meet their Kyoto targets. “So you’re burdening your economies, and for what?,” he asked

“Sen. Inhofe, we’re not like the U.S.,” said an official from the Netherlands. “We have a conscience about how we grow our economies. We realize there are limits.”

“Well, that certainly explains why I don’t see much growing over there,” responded Sen. Thomas. “In America,” Sen. Sessions said, “we have the ingenuity to both protect our environment and grow our economy.”

At one point, Sen. Inhofe asked the EU delegation if they were interested in discussing the latest science of global warming. He was rebuffed, as the official from the Netherlands, with a whiff of disdain, said that the science was settled-human beings, through fossil fuel emissions, are causing it. His evidence? “I can only skate on my pond three months out of the year. Years ago, it was 5 and 6 months.”

“Excuse me, sir, but that’s not science,” Inhofe said. “That’s an anecdote.”

Throughout the Milan conference, it was clear that Kyoto, as many conservatives had predicted, is an abject failure. It was obvious that Kyoto’s most ardent champions are chasing a “problem” that doesn’t exist. And as Milan showed, Kyoto is not about global warming, but about imposing international social policies crafted in Paris salons.

In a panel discussion titled “Beyond Kyoto,” a French official said, “Don’t worry about precise emissions levels.” It’s important, he said, to “just take into account our ambition to address this problem.” Perhaps the most interesting viewpoint came from a Swiss panelist, who at one point said global climate policy is really about “promoting social and economic equality.”

According to a seminar held later in the day by the UN Development Programme, Kyoto, according to panelists, is really about promoting gender equality. A panelist from Sweden said that gender equality “is good for the environment because men and women have an equal footing in making environmental decisions.”

A gender specialist from the UN called for “paradigm shifts” in global warming policy, and by that she meant that energy policies and technologies “must be responsive to gender” and must be made “from a gender perspective.” And further, she stated that gender equality must be “the core organizing principle for energy policy.”

Finally, after promoting social and economic equality and gender equity, conference participants meandered to the global climate fashion show, where proud members of the international community unveiled a new “climate symbol.” As the emcee shouted into the microphone, “We want to make the climate symbol a fashion accessory!!”

After the conference, Sen. Inhofe said, “We need to look into this whole process. This is an industry of UN bureaucrats feeding off the American taxpayer. It’s outrageous.”