December 13, 2005

Global Whining: The Real Results of Montreal

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:01 am

There’s a difference of opinion concerning what came out of Montreal’s conference on climate change.

Some environmental groups are claiming that something significant was salvaged at the end. Here’s one example:

(from Friends of the Earth)

Negotiators worked through Friday night to reach a progressive agreement under the Kyoto Protocol, which will lead to deeper emissions cuts in the next commitment period, which starts in 2013. This Kyoto deal initiates crucial negotiations on legally binding targets for industrialised countries and also sets in motion a wider review of the entire regime involving all countries, due to be discussed at talks next year.

Agreement was also reached under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) despite the reluctance of the United States administration, which put forward new text to weaken the deal.

Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair Tony Juniper said: “Despite Russia’s attempt to wreck the deal, this meeting has made a historic agreement which will strengthen global resolve with legally-binding targets to take action to tackle climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It has sent a clear signal that the future lies in cleaner and more sustainable technologies and is good news for people everywhere.

Legally binding? Doubtful, according to

More than 150 nations, including nearly every industrialized country except the United States, agreed Saturday to negotiate a second phase of mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Those include carbon dioxide, methane and other gases accumulating in the atmosphere from fossil-fuel burning. A 1997 treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, covers the first phase through 2012, but the United States, whose tailpipes and smokestacks are responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases, won’t participate.

Claussen said: “If you really want results, you have to do something that’s mandatory. It’s not going to happen with voluntary approaches.”

….. Only in the final hours of the Montreal talks did the U.S. delegation, led by State Department and White House officials, accept a weaker agreement to join a preliminary discussion on future steps to slow global warming, and then only on condition that it ruled out “negotiations leading to new commitment” to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Bush administration committed itself to slowing down the growth rate of those gases, not reversing the trend. But the United States was included in the talks because it is among 189 nations that signed onto a 1992 agreement, negotiated under the first President Bush, that set voluntary goals for cutting greenhouse emissions. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol grew out of the 1992 agreement.

Very clever writing, by the way. It’s all Bush 41′s fault because he signed onto something voluntary, not Bill Clinton’s fault because he tried to sign on to something mandatory (the Senate had other ideas, to the tune of a 95-0 resolution [2nd paragraph] rejecting Kyoto). So Bush 43 is going against what Bush 41 would have wanted. Nice try, no sale, guys.

Back to the main point.–I think what we’re looking at is a lot of wishful thinking on the enviro side.

Confirmation? The New York Times has gone into near-cardiac arrest:

America’s Shame in Montreal

….. The Europeans are finding solace in the fact that the Americans – after much kicking and screaming, and after public rebukes by Canada’s prime minister and a surprise visitor named Bill Clinton – finally agreed to join informal “nonbinding” discussions that will try to entice developing countries like China and India into the process.

….. But talk is cheap, and nonbinding talk is even cheaper. And talk alone will not get the developing world into the game. Why should India and China make major sacrifices while the United States, in effect, gets a free ride? The battle against global warming will never be won unless America joins it, urgently and enthusiastically. Our grandchildren will look back with anger and astonishment if we fail to do so.

That settles it. The Bushies did fine in Montreal up to a point, but I fear that they’ve left it to a future Democrat administration to pretend, as Clinton-Gore did even after the Senate resolution on Kyoto, that what was done in Montreal has legal force.

UPDATE: EU Rota has choice words for The Times.

UPDATE 2: Amy Ridenour posts Peyton Knight’s thoughts on the Montreal conference. The conclusions: “The conference had two major objectives. Both were left unrealized. One: Conference delegates were supposed to create an enforcement mechanism to hold nations bound by the Kyoto Treaty accountable to the Kyoto emissions reductions targets they had pledged to reach. This was not accomplished. Instead, a compliance committee was elected and it will be tasked with creating an enforcement mechanism. Two: Conference delegates were supposed to devise a plan for future, more stringent emissions reductions after 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires. This was not accomplished. Instead, they simply agreed to meet again on the topic.” I’ll take it. I’d like the sovreignty-breaking “enforcement mechanism” concept ditched entirely, but since we never ratified Kyoto, it would be meaningless anyway. I suppose this is a way to humor the enviros.

Previous related posts:
- Dec. 12 — Passage of the Day: WSJ on Environmental Sanity
- Dec. 7 — Passage of the Day: Mark Steyn Identifies the Real Environmentalists
- Dec. 3 — Margaret Beckett of Great Britain Deserves a Major Promotion
- Nov. 29 — Canadian Crocodile Tears for the Never-in-Effect Kyoto Treaty
- Nov. 22 — The Kyoto Treaty Is Dead–I Knew That
- Sept. 21 — The Enviro “Coalition of the Seething” Won’t Be Pleased
- Sept. 17 — Kyoto Treaty, RIP: Blair Delivers the Blow


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