Senator Hillary Clinton says that if elected president she will promptly commit the United States to a Kyoto Protocol “Round II”. She would strike a deal in 2010, which she says, somehow accelerates global salvation because, though Kyoto expires at the end of 2012, “we cannot afford to wait two more years.”
Of course. Voters can’t be swindled into anything as bad as Kyoto: they have to be stampeded. But the sky is neither falling nor heating up. Notice that after a decade of carbon dioxide emissions rising in every country in the world — more so in Europe than the U.S., by the way — the very same rhetoric is trotted out to sell a “new” Kyoto as was used to sell the first in 1997. But the atmosphere’s temperature hasn’t changed. Only the historical record has, with NASA being forced to admit that, e.g., 1900 was warmer than the year 2000. Urgency, indeed.
While Clinton’s vow is not a surprise, it is news, though it appears that only the London-based Financial Times found it worth covering. The Post and New York Times possibly sensed the lack of domestic appeal.
A little understanding of Kyoto arcana goes a long way to assist digestion of Kyoto rhetoric. First, the “she’d speed it up” spin is odd. The UN regularly warns that 2010 is the latest they dare wait to agree to Kyoto’s successor because of the delays associated with ratification and preparation for implementation. Given that the UN of all people knows that Kyoto has had no impact on emissions, they seem more concerned about a loss of interest (urgency) than anything else if the treaty were to lapse for a year or two.
Truth be told, the only reason to rush is that if Kyoto expires, it’ll take years for the globaloney producers to put their Humpty Dumpty together again. Kyoto’s Parties are having a heck of a time agreeing to anything, even without the U.S. There is no evidence that a post-2012 agreement would or could possibly come together any time before then.
Regardless, the effort is escalating to blame the U.S. — which never ratified Kyoto — for its failure. The line is — as usual — that we’re rogue actors, out of step, irresponsible, as if it were by affirming our disinterest in Kyoto in March 2001 we “squandered post-9/11 (2001) goodwill” and made France and Germany act badly at the UN in 2002, etc.
Senator Clinton has now joined that effort. The only details of her promise are that this pact she would negotiate would involve mandatory emission reductions and would include China and India. This implies a steely resolve to somehow wrench mandatory commitments despite those nations’ continued insistence to the contrary. Kyoto currently requires mandatory emissions reductions and China and India are at present fully ratified (if exempt) Parties to Kyoto. So Clinton actually vows nothing more than she’d capitulate to the current scheme which puts the burden on the United States.
Thus the theme that the Bush administration is the obstacle to salvation by Kyoto is disingenuous, but consistent with the mantra presently being pushed by the EU, as phrased in a Forbes headline, “US, not China, main obstacle in climate change talks – EU delegation.” That’s a tough sell on the merits, given that the U.S. has developed (what the Bush administration refuses to call) an alternative path that includes Kyoto scofflaws China, India, South Korea as well as Japan, Canada and Australia. In other words, Bush has developed a less costly approach far more comprehensive than Kyoto’s vain promises by 34 nations such as Belgium, Iceland, Slovenia and Slovakia, et al.
Lack of merits or not, Hillary finds great support among the media for this mythology.
Of course, as president, Ms. Clinton can agree to any treaty she wants. Her husband proved that, agreeing to (and signing) Kyoto even after a unanimous Senate instructed him not to. It languished because, for over three years after he agreed to it and now seven years after he left office, both he and his successor declined to push the Senate to ratify it.
Were the Senate were so inclined it could force the issue. Nothing in the Constitution or statute prevents it from voting on duly signed pacts with or without a presidential request.
Therefore, all claims of irresponsibility and crisis, particularly when made by a senator, should be taken in context with the fact that neither Senator Clinton nor any other purported Kyotophile has made one move to force the issue.
So, Hillary’s general claim is that she would commit the U.S. to Kyoto’s energy rationing scheme which — by her diplomagic — would include India and China joining in the promises despite their insistence to the contrary. Ten years working on this issue tells me that this is a hint that she would bribe them into participation in a “reductions” scheme that does not actually require reductions of them.
That is, just as was done to bribe Russia and other collapsed economies into Kyoto, President Hillary Clinton would use U.S. wealth transfers to entice economic competitors into a symbolic promise that in practice amounts to nothing more than a promise to sell us carbon “credits”, which they only would possess and we only would require if we write a pact saying so.
Senator Clinton claims she would fix Kyoto’s flaws, and has in the past indicated that the U.S. should sign pacts even if we don’t care for the terms of what we’re signing, as a way to show our seriousness which earnestness then erodes their resistance. Then we can improve the terms. This is what her husband did with the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty, stating during the signing ceremony that, while he didn’t agree with the terms of the deal he was signing, by committing to it we would maintain the greatest leverage in changing the objectionable terms.
This is a novel theory in the real world though apparently one that proliferates among American global-governance types. Try it at the car lot next time. You know, Ed, I’m not thrilled with these financing terms but I’m going to sign this here contract because I think, when I do, I’m gonna get those floor mats and undercoat once you see how serious I am.
Just how poorly this approach works is found in Kyoto’s record. In November 2000 during the Florida recount, the U.S. and Europe sat down in The Hague to agree on the specifics of what Kyoto’s vague terms meant. With the Clinton-Gore team visibly desperate over the recount, the Europeans sought to put the screws to the U.S. They insisted on an interpretation of a key provision that would have added even more billions to the cost of U.S. efforts to comply with the pact.
Amazingly, the Clinton-Gore team walked, the only time the U.S. has ever done so notwithstanding the mythology that George W. Bush “withdrew from” Kyoto, or “unsigned” it as he did with the ICC. While he dropped the disingenuously loving rhetoric about Kyoto, Bush simply maintained the Clinton-Gore stance, against which stance Hillary now campaigns.
Hillary now vows that she’d entangle us in a Kyoto treaty that’s already a dismal failure , which no one new has joined or indicated an interest in doing so after ten years, which would only be held against the U.S. by green pressure groups leveraging our unique judicial system all to remedy a non-existent crisis.
There is no doubt that “global warming” will for the first time be an election issue in 2008. All contestants for the Democratic nomination echo some variant of this stance, leaving it to the Republican nominee to demand honest debate over the threat and reality of the Kyoto “global warming” treaty. Until the mythology is shattered, we are destined to repeat past mistakes.
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