U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   10/05/2005
 
Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe
Kyoto Protocol: Assessing the Status of Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The Committee today will examine the Kyoto Protocol and status of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. This subject is relevant to policy discussions here in the United States.

Shortly after the Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 16th, the President stated that “the Kyoto debate is beyond us, as far as I’m concerned.” Nevertheless, some policymakers continue to clamor for the United States to join in Kyoto or in creating a follow-on to Kyoto. Perhaps more importantly, the Kyoto framework forms the basis of several legislative proposals to mandate unilateral cuts in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. If our nation were to follow Europe down the path it has chosen, we should understand whether their efforts are working or not. And they are not.

Let me be clear at the outset. I believe the countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol are wasting their economic resources because the science does not justify it – anthropogenic climate change is the world’s greatest hoax. Even if humans were causing global warming – and we are not – but even if we were, Kyoto would do nothing to avert it. At most, Kyoto is projected to reduce temperature growth by 0.07 degrees Celsius by 2050, which is negligible – and again, that’s assuming anthropogenic global warming is happening. And also that parties were meeting their targets. But they will not meet their targets.

I will not mince words – the Kyoto Protocol is a failure. And the basic approach it embodies is a failure. The European Union was the primary champion of the Protocol as the best approach to deal with global warming. Yet all but two of the original 15 European Union countries, as well as Canada and Japan, will fail to meet their emission reduction targets. In fact, some countries are increasing emissions by more than 40 or 50 percent, as these charts show.

Canada, for instance, has a Kyoto target of 6 percent below 1990 levels. But as of 2003, it was already 24 percent above 1990 levels and is projected to be up at least 45 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, New Zealand, which had thought it would have surplus credits of 54 million tons instead will have a credit deficit of 36 tons, leading the National Party to call for an immediate formal review of the country’s participation in Kyoto.

Serious questions are being raised not only by critics, but by government agencies that support the Kyoto Protocol. As the European Environment Agency stated in a release in June:

“Modest total greenhouse gas emission reductions since 1990 were the result of a combination of one-off structural changes and specific policies and measures. Since 2000, CO2 emissions in the [original 15 EU counties] have been rising. On present policies, this rise will continue after 2010 with a projected overall 14% rise above 1990 levels by 2030.”

Some have dismissed these problems by suggesting that these countries would be able to meet their targets by adopting aggressive additional measures. But that ignores economic realities. Europeans are complaining about the high cost of gasoline. Businesses are complaining as well. For instance, on June 28th, the International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers wrote that the EU emissions trading scheme has caused systemic problems with serious negative consequences to the economy and markets. It hinders competition, but does not provide clear incentives to reduce carbon dioxide.

These problems have not gone unnoticed at the political level. On September 15th, in speaking of the Kyoto Protocol and efforts to reduce emissions, Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that – and I quote – “we have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it. The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in light of a long-term environmental problem.”

This and other comments he made that day have caused quite a bit of hand-wringing in the environmental community and some have tried to say his comments were out of context, but they were not. I have his full comments here and am entering his full comments into the record.

Prime Minister Blair had it right. Countries will not sacrifice their economies, and now when reality is setting in, they are demonstrating that fact. Clearly, Kyoto’s approach to capping the economy by capping carbon is not working.

I am looking forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses today. On the first panel is Dr. Harlan Watson, the chief negotiator for climate issues for the United States. On the second panel, we are joined by Lord Nigel Lawson, who has had a distinguished career in the British government and who co-authored a House of Lords report that calls for far more scrutiny in climate decisions in many respects. Also appearing is Dr. Margo Thorning, an economist with the American Council for Capital Formation, and Professor Michael Grubb of the Imperial College London. Thank you all for coming to testify today.