McCain, Lieberman Like Kyoto
Matters News Service
Washington, D.C. - This week, the Senate is scheduled to debate S.
139, the Kyoto-like McCain/Lieberman bill named the Climate Stewardship
Act that would require emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called
green-house gases to be reduced to 2000 levels by 2010.
Implementation of the measure would cost the United States over
$1.3 trillion by 2025, according to analysis by the Energy Information
The Senate resoundingly rejected the Kyoto Protocol (95-0) in 1997
on the basis it would be harmful to the U.S. economy. Russia expressed
similar concerns when it refused to sign on to Kyoto at the recent
World Climate Change Conference in Moscow. Dr. Andrei Illarionov,
President Putin's economic adviser, said, "Considering that the
Kyoto Protocol is restricting economic growth…it means dooming the
country to poverty, backwardness and weakness."
The Senate should end the debate and delegate the Climate Stewardship
Act to the ash heap of history along with the Kyoto Protocol.
FLAWED ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY
From Liberty Matters News Service
Policy-makers in Congress, as well as several state legislatures,
are considering legislation to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
For example, the bill introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut
Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, would require the United
States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 (a
14 percent reduction compared to current emission trends). The same
bill would require utilities to reduce CO2 emissions by nearly as
much as required
by the Kyoto Protocol. In 1997, the last time it voted on a similar
issue, the Senate voted 95-0 to oppose any constraints on emissions
that could harm the economy. One state, California, has also mandated
reductions in CO2 from cars and trucks. Legislators need to ask themselves
whether these proposals are appropriate in light of recent international
climate policy developments in key countries like Russia and Australia.
For example, at the recent World Climate Change Conference (WCCC)
in Moscow, a marathon five-day gathering of climate scientists and
policy experts from all over the world in which I participated, top
Russian policy-makers questioned the benefits to Russia of signing
the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. Andrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's
economic adviser, made it clear that Russia's priority is to double
its Gross Domestic Product by 2010. Achieving that goal will, according
to Mr. Illarionov, require a doubling of carbon emissions, due to
the strong correlation between energy use and economic growth. Looking
out past the first commitment period (post-2010), when the target
for Russian carbon emissions could be 60 to 70 percent below 1990
levels by the
year 2050, Mr. Illarionov stated that Russia would have to buy emission
credits and curtail its economic growth. At an Oct. 3 press conference
in Moscow, Mr. Illarionov asked rhetorically, "The United States
and Australia have calculated that they cannot
bear the economic consequences of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. If
they are not rich enough to deal with these consequences, my question
is whether Russia is much richer than the U.S. and Australia."
He concluded, "Considering that the Kyoto Protocol is restricting
economic growth . . . it means dooming the country to poverty, backwardness
Russia's apparent decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will likely
shift the terms of the debate at the upcoming meeting of the Conference
of the Parties in Milan this December. Pro-Kyoto forces, who lobbied
Mr. Putin aggressively to say "Da" during the opening session
of the WCCC meeting in Moscow, had hoped to move forward on implementing
the treaty and planning for the further greenhouse emission cuts in
the post-2010 period. Targets of 60 to 70 percent below 1990 levels
have been suggested
by European Union (EU) policy-makers. The recent developments in
Russia, as well as in Australia, where Prime Minister John Howard
again stated that his country would not ratify the protocol, suggest
that few agreements on the nitty-gritty of reforming the EU emission-trading
system will occur in Milan. In the end, this may be the best outcome,
for it may encourage the EU to consider alternative approaches. These
could include a long-term strategy for developing new technologies
for energy production.
These approaches are likely to provide a surer way to gradually stabilize
greenhouse gas emissions, while allowing for economic growth in both
the developed world and countries like China, India and Mexico. Nuclear
power expansion could also play a valuable role in reducing carbon
emissions, while allowing for the increased energy consumption necessary
for economic growth.
In light of the increasing probability that the Kyoto Protocol will
not go into effect, defeated by the growing recognition of its impracticality,
it seems especially unwise for U.S. policy-makers to try to pass "Kyoto-like"
targets for the United States, such as those in the Lieberman-McCain
bill. Shackling ourselves to meaningless targets (in the sense that
U.S. emission reductions will have virtually no impact on the growth
in global emissions) will only slow productive investment in the United
States, reduce job growth and hinder U.S. competitiveness.
Dr. Margo Thorning is a senior vice president and chief economist
of the American Council for Capital Formation.
Copyright (c) 2003 News World Communications, Inc. All rights
Courage against the 'consensus'
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published October 29, 2003
Today and tomorrow, the Senate is expected to spend six hours of
floor time debating the Climate Stewardship Act, co-sponsored by Sens.
John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut
Democrat. Considering its doubtful mitigation effects and certain
economic costs, Congress would do well to spend nothing more than
time on the legislation.
The bill is a light version of the Kyoto Protocol. While Kyoto would
require emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to
be cut to 1990 levels by 2012, McCain-Lieberman would require that
such emissions be cut to 2000 levels by 2010. Earlier this month,
Messrs. McCain and Lieberman agreed to eliminate the second phase
of the cuts, which would reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2015.
(They promised to push for this phase later.)
Doing that could have a cumulative cost of over $1.3 trillion by 2025,
according to an analysis of the legislation done by the Energy Information
Administration (EIA). (The analysis included a few optimistic estimates
on the economy's ability to compensate for the imposed costs.) The
EIA report also predicted that by 2025, the price of gasoline would
rise by about one-third and the price of electricity by about 50 percent.
Those are startling numbers, regardless of the considerable uncertainties
involved. Similar economic likelihoods led Russian President Vladimir
Putin to step back from ratification of Kyoto. Australia has also
refused to go along.
In contrast to the near-consensus among economists about high costs
of emissions caps on carbon dioxide, there is still no agreement among
scientists on how those emissions may be contributing to climate change.
The systems are too complex, and there are too many variables involved
for a clear-cut answer.
However, it is widely acknowledged that Kyoto-style caps would have
little effect on climate change. An article on technologies that might
be useful in reaching such targets published in the journal Science
about a year ago pointed out that "Kyoto is too weak . . . because
much greater emission reductions will be needed and we lack the technology
to make them."
Emissions reductions and economic growth will have to go hand-in-hand
— as the Science piece noted, "Energy is critical to global prosperity
and equity." In an op-ed opposite this page, Margo Thorning points
out that encouraging the development of new energy production technologies
with reduced greenhouse gas emissions is a wise goal for policy-makers.
The administration has already been doing so, with initiatives on
clean coal and hydrogen fuel cells. Although critics have castigated
the administration for faintheartedness in refusing to act on either
McCain-Lieberman or Kyoto, it takes courage to go against the clamor
of the chattering class.
The vote on McCain-Lieberman may give the administration's opponents
a new set of talking points. However, it should not sway the administration
in its determination to avoid costly, ineffective strictures like
McCain-Lieberman or Kyoto. Time and technology may yet provide the
best solutions to climate change.