Saturday, December 11, 2004


Don't hold your breath. This notion of a new deal on climate change is something that Tony Blair has cooked up, with a fair degree of passion, but not yet much claim to reality. The plan has two roots, it seems. The first is the Prime Minister's desire to set his mark during 2005 on Britain's presidency of the G8 - the club of industrialised nations, which indulgently includes Russia. Long ago he earmarked Africa (including Aids) and global warming for the top of his agenda, Washington has acknowledged. "Wouldn't you think he could stick to solving the Middle East and Northern Ireland?" one US official said, with a gibe at yesterday's collapse of a Belfast deal.

The second reason is to solidify Britain's ties with the US, but here he is on shakier ground. "The thing is, the British (team) hasn't yet explained to us why we should really care," said one official close to a senator familiar with the talks. The plan was formed in the first few days of November, after President Bush had been re-elected but before the Prime Minister went to Washington.

The British pitch was tried out first on a visiting team from Congress. "Look how badly the US has suffered internationally from snubbing the Kyoto Protocol. Why don't we try to see if there is some deal the US could sign up to, which would show how it is making strenuous efforts to cut carbon emissions?" That was the thrust of it. It didn't get a very warm response. The congressional team was keen to impress on the Brits that the US's refusal to sign up to Kyoto was not a casual oversight, which would not have been made if the US had foreseen the brickbats that it would receive. The members of Congress did not need European lectures about the "cost" to the US's reputation abroad. Come to that, even if lectures were delivered, they did not much care. The real point, said the team, newly assertive given the strong Republican majority on Capitol Hill, was that Congress would never pass anything resembling Kyoto, even if a president, bewitched by the will-o'-the-wisp of foreign adulation, was crazy enough to put his name to it. Any pledge to cut carbon emissions would cut American jobs. It would give an unjustified boost to developing countries that were not subject to pollution curbs - meaning China and India.

This position, which happens to be exactly in line with the White House's position, has been very convenient for the Bush Administration. It means that Bush does not need to take the blame for the US's stubbornness; he can hide behind the vocal bulk of Congress, even if that is a subtlety lost on activists outside the US.

When Blair arrived in Washington, a few days later, his team presented a more nuanced version of the pitch to Bush's team. Britain could help the US to repair relations with Europe on this front, they argued. It could help the rest of the world to understand that the US was, indeed, working hard to reduce emissions and did take global warming seriously, even if it was not in the Kyoto club.

So what might a non-Kyoto deal on global warming look like? The Blair team have worked hard to fill in this enormous blank. It might include a statement about technologies that could help to combat the emission of greenhouse gases. Yet this could cause problems for Blair, as one of the technologies most able to do so is nuclear power, a subject on which Blair's Government has been energetically non-committal. It might also include an agreement on scientific evidence about global warming, although this, from the US point of view, is controversial. The Bush Administration has not wanted to commit itself to a public statement that science unambiguously determines global warming to be a threat.

Nor has the Blair team yet found a way around the US's main concern: that any deal should bring China and India firmly under its umbrella, in a way that Kyoto does not. Kyoto allows them the forgiving status of "industrialising" countries, although their manufacturing boom - and their share of the world's emissions - makes this look out of date. Nothing that Britain has come up with appears to resemble a plan that would appeal both to the US and to China and India. Yet Blair's support of Bush has bought him at least civility from Washington. During Britain's presidency of the G8, polite evasion seems to be the most likely American response to his bright new idea.


Kyoto Protocol is just lots of hot air

Some wisdom from Russia

ACCORDING to the Kyoto protocol proponents, Australia and the US are the rogue nations. But in the eyes of the absolute majority of the world, they are reasonable and smart. After all, Australia and the US -- along with nine developed countries and 167 other nations -- are refusing to undertake legal obligations in restricting their greenhouse gas emissions. The fact is the Kyoto protocol that will be a global treaty within months is based on fraudulent science. Assertions that global temperatures are higher today than any time in the past are completely false. Fluctuations in climate patterns have existed for millions of years -- for all earth history.

Global temperatures were higher in the Roman times when grapes were grown on British islands and Hannibal's elephants walked through the Alps into Italy. They were higher in the medieval period when the Vikings found and colonised the island that they have called Greenland and when Norwegians grew grain on the fields that are 300m in altitude higher than it is possible to do today.

Temperature variations in the course of the earth's history have been much greater than the increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the last century. In the past, the earth's climate was warmer, the global temperature rose faster, sea level was higher, floods were more severe, droughts lasted longer and hurricanes were more devastating than they were in the 20th century. Moreover, the best available temperature data from satellites show negligible temperature changes over the past several decades.

As pointed out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Richard Lindzen, perhaps the world's most respected atmospheric physicist, if global warming were to occur it would be accompanied by reduced rather than increased numbers of severe weather patterns. Pseudo-scientific fabrications cost humankind a lot. Y2K cost consumers worldwide $700 billion. But once December 31, 2000, passed, the hysteria behind Y2K evaporated. The nonsense of global warming triggered by the anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels hypothesis could cost the world economy much more.

The Kyoto treaty means a heavy price in terms of economic growth. Tentative early evidence of this can be seen by examining growth rates of those nations that have and have not enforced restrictions on their emissions. Since 1997, the 17 pro-Kyoto developed nations (15 EU countries, Canada and Japan) have had slower economic growth rates than the 11 non-Kyoto nations (including Australia and the US) -- 1.9 per cent annually compared with 3.3 per cent. There is no way to cheat economic laws -- increase in wealth creation requires more energy.

CO2 is a natural result of the use of fossil fuels that still account for 80 per cent of energy consumed globally. Nuclear energy today is the only commercially viable alternative. But even if green activists and Euro-bureaucrats secretly desire a rapid expansion of nuclear energy, there are still objective limits to how fast hydrocarbons can be replaced. Therefore, limiting emissions means limiting energy consumption, limiting economic activity and limiting technological progress.

Even with Russia on board, the Kyoto treaty will do little to global CO2 emissions considering that 70 per cent of the world's CO2 is emitted by countries not subject to Kyoto restrictions. Moreover, this share is growing as China, India and other non-Kyoto developed and developing countries grow faster than pro-Kyoto ones. Countries around the world must choose what is more important for them -- stagnating, at best, living standards due to Kyoto sclerotic regulations or the rising well-being of billions of people without them.

The Kyoto protocol requires a supranational bureaucratic monster in charge of rationing emissions and, therefore, economic activities. The Kyoto-ist system of quota allocation, mandatory restrictions and harsh penalties will be a sort of international Gosplan, a system to rival the former Soviet Union's. This perhaps explains why it finds such ready support in some quarters. But that's why it should be a warning signal for those who value economic and political freedom.

Last May the Russian Academy of Sciences published its conclusion on Kyoto -- the protocol does not have scientific ground whatsoever. Nobody among Russian decision makers considers the Kyoto protocol either scientifically proven or economically beneficial for the country. The only reasons for Russia's decision to ratify were purely political. For 3 1/2 years, Russia was heavily lobbied by Europeans, Canadians, Japanese and international bureaucrats.

The message for Australians is clear: continued economic growth and rising living standards or make your future and the future of your children a victim of Kyoto-ism, one of the most aggressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism.

(The author, Andrei Illarionov, is chief economic adviser to the president of the Russian Federation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Russian authorities.)



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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