No Rush to New Kyoto?

“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia, Winston”

It is only fitting that amid the talks over a successor to the 2008-2012 Kyoto “global warming” treaty in Poznan, Poland — where the Poles were lectured how they should leave that abundant coal in the ground since their friendly Russian neighbors have a reliable gas supply for them to burn instead — that we should see eye-popping rhetorical revisions to join such ignorance of history.

First came the Reuters story which opened:

POZNAN, Poland, Dec 8 (Reuters) — Recession and the change of U.S. administration make it unlikely the world will meet a 2009 deadline for agreeing a full new pact to fight global warming, delegates at U.N. climate talks say.

That’s funny, because right up until that story went to press we were told precisely the opposite — that the change of U.S. administration would make it much more likely that the world will meet a 2009 deadline for a Kyoto successor. Go ahead. Look it up.

As I have said for nigh on a year, it is going to prove very confusing to the global warming industry when this issue can no longer be about George W. Bush.

So suddenly we are treated to headlines such as “U.N. Climate Change Chief Downplays
COP-15 Goals, Says Midyear Talks Possible”, which led to this opener:

POZNAN, Poland Dec 9 (BNA) — The United Nations’ top climate change official Dec. 9 said the post-Kyoto deal to be finalized in Copenhagen in 2009 would be a kind of framework rather than a ‘fully elaborated’ agreement…

Coughsputter. Excuse me. For all of those who have been spared lives as climate geeks, allow me to elaborate. This is a complete reversal of seven years of venomous rhetoric and excuses for all manner of tantrums on the international stage including stunts at the United Nations and threats of trade wars.

Apparently “the world, united” (apparently against us) was just kidding when it huffed, in its collective and collectivist voice, that the long-anticipated Kyoto II would without doubt or delay be announced next December in Copenhagen without a moment to spare because to have a gap between the treaties would cause the movement to lose its “momentum”. Oh, and, with Bush out of the way the U.S. would join right then and there. We must. Act. Now.

First of all, did anyone see any momentum for a colossally failed treaty that hasn’t reduced emissions, but only exported jobs and transferred a lot of wealth to China and India? Well, the planet is now cooling, so maybe I’m being harsh.

Yvo de Boer, the man who runs Kyoto for the UN, just deflected the idea of holding Obama to the same standard feverishly applied to George Bush, stating “What we’ve got, through everything that Senator Obama has said so far, we’ve got pretty much the signal we need. I don’t think it makes any sense to unrealistically try and force the pace.”

That’s right: Take your time, fellas. That which was furiously demanded of George W. Bush as imperative, planet-critical of the utmost urgency is, well, maybe not so much, really.

So what gives? Sit down for this one.

The reason that it is now perfectly acceptable for the U.S. to go through its policy development as it sees fit is that “signal” received is that Obama’s approach will nonetheless lead to U.S. inclusion in the extant international process. That’s fancy-talk for “they’ve promised to join Kyoto”.

But how? After all, the U.S. signed that treaty in 1998. But two presidents decided against asking the Senate to ratify it. There’s that matter of persistent stiff, substantial opposition to a selective energy rationing treaty that China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Korean and other economic players scoff at and which contains absurd provisions clearly aimed at greasing the path for Europe and Russia, meaning it was aimed at reducing our competitiveness.

Ah, but it turns out this is the “ideal case” for something called the “congressional-executive agreement”. This is an established practice over the past fifty years or so, not exactly spelled out in the Constitution and the limits of which remain in doubt.

Under this process Congress and the President effectively waive the Constitution’s two-thirds Senate ratification requirement, and entangle the U.S. in international pacts with a simple bicameral majority with no amendments and no filibusters allowed (think NAFTA, which proceeded this way, though promising mutual lowering of trade barriers cannot hold a candle to the promise of mostly U.S. energy suppression demanded by the Kyoto scheme). As you might imagine, that is slightly more doable.

This happens to be precisely the plan put forth by former Clinton administration State Department official Nigel Purvis for a group called Resources for the Future, in a paper titled Paving the Way for U.S. Climate Leadership: The Case for Executive Agreements and Climate Protection Authority. The evidence is that this has caught Team Obama’s eye, and led to those “signals” that have caused our European friends to calm down and tweak the rhetoric a bit.

So, prepare for 2009. It’s going to be a wild ride, and one that begs for your participation.