Is Kyoto the Hidden Price of Britain’s Aid in Iraq?

Published June 1, 2003

When polls showed 80 percent of the British citizenry against America’s military position, Prime Minister Tony Blair stood fast with President George W. Bush. As happened for Bush in the U.S., Blair’s overall popularity (and support for his Iraq policy) soared since hostilities began and the outrageous nature of Saddam’s regime and tactics became common knowledge.

But selfless political sacrifice is rare indeed. After the dust settles, Blair wants Bush to repay him by dropping his steadfast opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

British Lobbying on Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol is wildly popular in Britain largely because the country seems to lack scientists courageous enough to point out that the government’s alarmist view of climate change is without merit. That’s not the case in the U.S. Experts know warming in the next 100 years, given a very small range of error, is likely to mirror what has happened in the past 40 years, and they aren’t afraid to say so. They know the Kyoto Protocol, while enormously expensive, would stop less than one-tenth of a degree (C) of warming in the next half-century, an amount too small to be reliably measured.

Soon after Bush took office and National Security Agency head Condolezza Rice said “Kyoto is dead,” the BBC reported Blair was under considerable pressure to oppose Bush. In April 2001, Blair’s deputy prime minister, John Prescott, “want[ed] to end cooperation [with the United States] on global trade, national missile defence, and even British support for the U.S. stand against China.” Others in Blair’s cabinet agreed, including International Development Secretary Clare Short and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. When he came to Washington three months later, Blair made plain his differences with Bush on the Protocol.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 didn’t change Blair’s tune. Speaking before the United Nations’ Earth Summit in Johannesburg in September 2002, “Tony Blair launched into an unexpected broadside against George Bush on climate change,” the London Guardian reported, adding that “what makes it more surprising is that his [Blair’s] aides appeared to be emphasizing the split with Washington. … In what aides said was a direct message to the White House, Mr. Blair said that Kyoto was not enough.”

On February 25, just three weeks before the start of war, Environmental News Network reported Blair “said world leaders must not let the crisis in Iraq and the fight against terrorism distract them from long-term but equally important environmental problems.”

Blair said, “The only answer is to construct a common agenda that recognizes that both sets of issues have to be confronted for the world’s security and prosperity to be guaranteed.” Further, sounding more radical than Al Gore, he continued: “There will be no genuine security if the planet is ravaged by climate change. We will continue to make the case to the U.S. and to others that climate change is a serious threat that we must address together as an international community.”

Back Room Deals

It is doubtless Blair has told Bush the price of military alliance in Iraq: Drop U.S. opposition to Kyoto. This won’t happen in a very public fashion. Instead, watch the legislation. The current Senate energy bill contains three provisions that come pretty close to enacting Kyoto. If the administration lets them slide through, the deal has been done.

One creates a permanent Office of Climate Policy in the White House, which gives radical environmentalists direct access to the President. The legislation also requires a national strategy to cut carbon dioxide emissions, which is a complete surrender by the administration to the nonexistent science propping up a hypothesis of dramatic and disastrous warming.

Finally, the bill creates an “early credit” for industries that cut emissions now. These “credits” have value only if some type of legal limit on emissions is imposed, so expect all these creditors to lobby for that limit. That is precisely what Enron pleaded for from the Clinton administration in a well-publicized letter from dethroned CEO Ken Lay.

Bush I and Bush II are men of their word. In the first Gulf War, Bush I promised the Saudis, in exchange for use of their airbases, we would not dethrone Saddam Hussein. He kept that promise, inadvertently creating today’s war.

His son’s word is equally his bond, which will become evident if the White House rolls over on Kyoto in the next month.

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and coauthor with Robert C. Balling Jr. of The Satanic Gases.