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Here comes Kyoto!

By Henry Lamb
web posted November 15, 2004

Delegates to the 10th anniversary meeting of the Climate Change Treaty in Buenos Aires are giddy in anticipation of the Kyoto Protocol entering into force early next year. The meeting, which is scheduled for December 6-17, is the first meeting since Russia decided to ratify the agreement.

What does this mean for the United States? No one really knows, but whatever it means, it is not likely to be good.

The international community was extremely disgusted with President Bush when he withdrew the U.S. from participation in 2001. They were even more disgusted when 59.4 million "dumb" Americans chose to re-elect the president. Now, with the Protocol entering into force, it could well become the instrument through which the international community seeks revenge.

A primary, behind-the-scenes condition for Russia's ratification was an unwritten agreement that the European Union would support Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization. The WTO is the only existing mechanism that has any real power to enforce the Kyoto Protocol.

As early as 1997, even before the Protocol was adopted, enforcement was a contentious issue that was discussed at U.N. meetings only in the hallways, and rarely in a public session. In the hallways, however, the WTO was widely recognized as the weapon of choice to force slacker nations to meet the Protocol's ambitious requirements.

Even though the United States is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, it is a member of the WTO, and as such, is subject to, and bound by, the decisions made by the WTO. The WTO consists of 150 member nations. Ultimate decision-making authority rests with the Ministerial Conference. Decisions are reached by consensus.

The United States and Australia are the largest nations that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Two nations, among the 150 members of the WTO, cannot affect, nor prevent a consensus decision that penalizes the U.S. or Australia.

Another tool is the Protocol itself. Once it enters into force, it can be amended to create any kind of enforcement mechanism the parties wish. Whether through the WTO, or an amended Protocol, one thing is clear: the United States will be punished by the international community. One way or the other, the cost of imported energy will increase.

Remember, the purpose of the Protocol is to redistribute wealth by controlling access to, and the cost of energy. That's why the Protocol is binding only upon developed nations, leaving China, India, and other developing nations to use all the energy they want, without penalty.

President Bush will be under intense pressure to rejoin the Protocol, so the U.S. will have a seat at the table to participate in amendment discussion. Pressure will come from the international community, the media, and individuals from mostly "blue" states.

People in the "red" states, and their elected officials, should support the President's determination to stay out of this international entanglement, as well as his plan to improve U.S. self-reliance by using our own resources, while removing some of the regulatory web that has blocked, for decades, growth in the development, processing, and distribution of domestic energy.

It is now abundantly clear that the United Nations system is no friend of the United States. It is equally clear that the U.N. has its own agenda, and that it is corrupt and unaccountable. Ignored sex scandals among its highest officials, outright bribery in the oil-for-food program, behind-the-scenes influence peddling, and repeated failure to address tragedies such as those in the Sudan and Rwanda, render the institution useless as an instrument to advance peace and freedom in the world.

The United States must rely on itself to defeat terrorism, along with help from nations such as the U.K., Australia, Japan, and the more than thirty other nations that are currently participating in the coalition.

Abundant, affordable energy is essential to a successful war on terror, and to fuel the economy that pays for the war. The first purpose of the Kyoto Protocol is to place international control over America's energy use. Despite the unfounded claims of blue-state liberals, the United States must use its vast coal and oil resources, and it must expand its use of nuclear energy as well. We should expand and accelerate development of energy alternatives, but use of existing resources should not be unnecessarily suppressed, by either the Kyoto Protocol, or the baseless claims of environmental extremists.

The Clinton/Gore regime nurtured the Kyoto Protocol into existence; the Bush regime recognized its horrible implications for the United States, and said "no thank you." Any international institution that seeks to limit or control the United States should be jettisoned, whether the Kyoto Protocol, the WTO, or the U.N. itself.

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

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