Earlier this month, Australia announced it would follow the United States’ decision not to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, and the European Union said it felt it could not retaliate against the Bush administration for making its decision. Yet some in the U.S. criticize President George W. Bush for failing to understand the requirements of the treaty and deride Bush’s intentions.
The Kyoto treaty is an agreement among 55 countries to cut greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, to five percent below 1990 levels to reduce global warming. Yet no industrialized country has ratified the treaty.
First, these gases have never been proven to cause global warming. Even if they did, man’s contribution to these gases is so small that if we turned off every internal combustion engine and factory on the planet, the worldwide reduction would be only two percent. Natural contributions like volcanic eruptions and evaporation of seawater dwarf industrial emissions. Why should we sacrifice our economy for theory that may or may not work?
Second, Bush rejected the treaty because it is unfair to Americans, not because he is against reducing pollutants. The U.S. is not the largest emitter of greenhouse gases per person, yet the Kyoto plan would charge the U.S. with the largest emissions cuts. Is it fair to punish the U.S. simply because it has more people? The treaty does not impose large cuts on China, India and other potential polluters who are only asked to make voluntary efforts to reduce pollutants. Signing the Kyoto plan would be agreeing to treat our citizens unequally to the rest of the world.
Third, Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto treaty does not mean he is not fulfilling his campaign promise to reduce emission of greenhouse gases. A United Nations panel of scientists met in Nairobi, Kenya, this month and announced that global climate change could be slowed using new technologies with U.S. help. Christine Todd Whitman, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said the Kyoto treaty was unfair to the U.S., but she pledged cooperation in seeking technology and incentives to address climate change. Bush said Kyoto’s goals can be accomplished using our resources positively while treating everyone equally.
What is President Bush doing that is so bad? Emissions standards remain the same as they were under eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration. Where was all the opposition last year, when negotiations with the Europeans collapsed over the Clinton-Gore administration’s push for greenhouse gas credits for forests and farmlands? And why did former President Bill Clinton not bring the Kyoto treaty to the Senate for ratification? Maybe because he knew it would not pass. The Senate voted 95 to zero in 1997 rejecting a treaty that did not treat all nations equally. Let’s give the Bush administration the time it deserves to develop a more accurate and equitable plan that will be effective in fighting real pollution.
-The writer is public affairs director of the College Republicans.