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Kyoto: Revival of the undead

By Henry Lamb
web posted July 30, 2001

The recent negotiations in Bonn, Germany, have breathed a semblance of life into the monstrosity still-born in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. Fortunately, President Bush understands the dangers inherent in the monster, and has chosen to keep the United States out of its grasp - for now.

You can be sure that had the election gone the other way last November, the U.S. would be caught in the clutches of this maniacal global monster.

The 15-page agreement, which supposedly clears the way for ratification by the other 37 nations affected by the treaty, is an excellent example of U.N. gobbledegook. Each of these declarations, or agreements, produced at the end of each of these negotiating sessions gets more complex and incomprehensible. Read the agreement (PDF format), and see for yourself.

The Question of Sinks (Kyoto Lands)

One of the major disagreements that caused the negotiations to collapse in The Hague last November, concerned the use of carbon sinks. Carbon sinks are nothing more than areas of forests, rangelands, or other vegetated areas, that absorb carbon dioxide.

The U.S. wanted to count the carbon absorbed from the atmosphere by America’s millions of acres of forests and range land, toward its emissions reductions targets. After all, the U.S. reasoned, if we have trees that absorb the carbon we produce, the result is the same as if that carbon dioxide had not been produced in the first place.

Not so, says the European Union. If you get credit for sink sequestration, you won’t have to reduce your energy consumption nearly as much as the rest of us. The U.S. offered to count only one-fourth of the carbon actually sequestered by sinks; The EU said OK, but Germany and France said no. The negotiations collapsed.

The agreement reached in Bonn includes the use of carbon sinks - sort of. The agreement creates a new “Executive Board” with one member from each of the five U.N. Global Regions, two members from developed countries, two members from developing countries, and one member from small island states. This Executive Board will rule on LULUCEF (Land Use and Land Use Change and Forestry) projects (gobbledegook) that may be considered in implementation of “Clean Development Mechanisms.” Article VII of the agreement, says that LULUCEF will not change the targets, and provides a chart assigning the maximum number of metric tons of carbon each nation may claim as credits from sequestration.

Confused? Read the agreement and get more confused.

Use of Carbon Sinks as a part of the treaty could significantly ease the energy restrictions in the U.S. On the other hand, identification of forests and rangeland, whether privately or publicly owned, as a factor in another international agreement, could give the government more justification for restricting land use, and changes in land use. The inclusion of carbon sinks applies only to the first commitment period. The next targets and commitment period will not include sinks, according to the current agreement.

The language in this agreement is important, even though President Bush has said the U.S. will not participate. Several Democratic Congressmen have said they are ready to ratify Kyoto. Should the Democrats take the White House in 2004, you can expect the U.S. to jump at the chance to surrender more sovereignty to the U.N.

The Question of Sovereignty

The new “Politically Correct” attitude holds that national sovereignty must give way to international authority. The Bonn agreement on Kyoto establishes three new international authorities: the ten-member Executive Board discussed above, who will decide on what is, and is not, an acceptable project considered in implementing the Protocol; a new 20-member “Expert Group,” which includes only seven members from developed countries, while the majority - including three representatives from “relevant international organizations” - will dictate which technology may be transferred from developed to developing countries; and a new nine-member “Compliance Committee,” consisting of only two members from developed countries.

Think about it. These three groups of un-elected, self-appointed bureaucrats, will have the power to approve or disapprove various transactions between the U.S., or industries in the U.S., and other countries, should the U.S. ever ratify the Protocol.

Compliance, and penalties for non-compliance, was another disagreement that contributed to the collapse of the November negotiations. The current agreement simply identifies the Compliance Committee as a new entity; it does not address the penalties for non-compliance. The agreement agrees to consider the matter further in yet another gathering of the negotiators in Morocco later this year.

The United States should never agree to acquiesce to a “Committee” of the United Nations, or any of its various agencies. The U.S. has already made this mistake when it approved the World Trade Organization. The United States has actually agreed to conform its laws to comply with the dictates of an appointed committee of the World Trade Organization. Industries in the United States have already felt the adverse impact of the WTO decisions. We should get out of this arrangement, and never again agree to submit to the authority of any U.N. agency.

While the rest of the world cheers the Kyoto agreement, and ridicules President Bush, they lament the fact that the watered-down agreement will have little impact on the environment, but eagerly await the new funds that the agreement promises.

Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), announced in a press conference in Buenos Aires in 1998, that the Kyoto Protocol was not an environmental treaty. “This is an economic treaty,” he proclaimed.

The first four pages of the Bonn agreement deal extensively with “new and additional” funding that is to be supplied by developed nations for distribution through the United Nations to the developing nations. Four pages! New trust funds here, additional money to existing trust funds there, and on top of the money, more technology - all funneled through, and controlled by various United Nations organizations and agencies.

He who hands out the money has the power. Remember the structure of the new boards and committees discussed above; all are dominated by developing nations. These developing nations are the recipients of the funds required by the agreement. How often will these developing nations disagree with the agency that is providing all this new money?

It is a ridiculous arrangement - from the American point of view. We are financing the loss of our sovereignty. It is a perfect arrangement - from the U.N. point of view. We empower the U.N. to provide the incentive to the majority of nations to support whatever policies the U.N. wants to include in its international treaties.

President Bush’s refusal to be ridiculed into submission deserves great respect and much appreciation. We need to realize that the Bush position only provides a window of opportunity to educate the Congress, and those who will vote for the next Congress, that the Kyoto Protocol is an inescapable trap; once snared, escape will be nearly impossible.

The next few months will be critical. The President should rescind the United State’s signature to the Kyoto Protocol, and withdraw all funding to every U.N. agency that is involved with advancing the Protocol: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Global Environment Facility; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and several other agencies and organizations.

This would suck the life-blood out of the Kyoto monster, and perhaps, return it to the realm of really dead. ESR

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Kyoto resurrected? by Henry Lamb (April 23, 2001)
    Like a monster from a bad movie, the Kyoto Protocol refuses to die. Henry Lamb says Jan Pronk was in the United States recently trying to revive the almost dead treaty
  • Hail to the Chief: No Kyoto! by Henry Lamb (April 2, 2001)
    In the light of his decision on the Kyoto Treaty, Henry Lamb has nothing but good words for Dubya
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