Kyoto Protocol Loses Support

Published January 1, 2003

As the science behind the global warming scare gradually melts down, support for implementing the Kyoto Protocol is starting to evaporate. Scientists, government leaders, and taxpayers around the world are beginning to pay more attention to the steep cost and dubious benefits of implementing the Kyoto Protocol.

Scientists Admit Kyoto Won’t Work

In the November 1, 2002 issue of Science magazine, a group of approximately 20 scientists and scientific advisors conclude that cutting CO2 emissions is a huge waste of resources. According to the computer models used to forecast significant global warming as a result of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, adoption of the Kyoto Protocol and instituting its significant cuts in CO2 emissions would have virtually no impact on global climate.

The authors conclude that countries would have to make reductions far in excess of what is currently feasible in order to have any measurable effect on the climate. The solution to any dangerous global warming, conclude the article’s authors, will depend on technological breakthroughs and human ingenuity during the next 30 to 100 years.

That conclusion is similar to the one advocated by “skeptics” in the global warming debate from the beginning of the debate. Rather than impose costly mandates now to combat a hypothetical long-term danger, it makes more sense to study the science and encourage private markets to do what they do best: find cost-effective solutions to real problems.

Ratification and Implementation in Doubt

The United States and Australia have stated they will not ratify Kyoto. Russia continues to vacillate, even though the Russian economy has shrunk so much in the past decade that its emissions are now about a third below its Kyoto-benchmark 1990 levels. Without Russian participation, Kyoto will not achieve the requisite participation of nations responsible for 55 percent of the developed world’s CO2 emissions.

Ratification is emerging as a step far easier to take than actual implementation of the global warming treaty. Japan ratified the treaty but is widely expected to fail to take the necessary steps to achieve its emission reduction goals. The U.S., even though it did not ratify the treaty, is expected to spend more on global warming research and emission control projects than any other country. (See “Conference Highlights Voluntary Actions on Climate Change,” page 4.)

Canadian ratification of Kyoto has the support of the Prime Minister and was once considered a political slam dunk. However, as this story went to press, lame-duck Prime Minister Jean Chretien was facing considerable political opposition to his plans to make Kyoto one of his legacies. Public support for the Protocol has been steadily eroding as citizens learn more about the underlying science and projected costs to the Canadian economy.

Public opinion polls show Canadians are now split on the issue, with some polls showing significantly more Canadians oppose the Protocol than support it. The Canadian Taxpayer Federation has released a study showing implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will reduce net annual household income by $2,700 per year by 2010. That represents a 5.5 percent decline over household income in a non-Kyoto Canada.

“In light of the fact that Kyoto yields no economic or environmental benefits this is obviously a bad deal for Canadian households and should be rejected,” writes Professor Ross McKitrick of the University of Guelph, who authored the Taxpayer Federation study. The study also concludes natural gas prices could rise by 90 percent and gasoline prices by 50 percent if Kyoto were implemented.

Canadian citizens, it appears, are beginning to take notice.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.