Senate EPW Committee Releases White Paper: Lessons From Kyoto: Paris Agreement Will Fail National Economies and the Climate 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a new EPW Majority Staff White Paper today entitled,  Lessons From Kyoto: Paris Agreement Will Fail National Economies and the Climate.  Expanding on remarks Inhofe made on the U.S. Senate floor yesterday, the white paper provides a comprehensive outlook on the final Paris agreement by examining its failed predecessor, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. 

“This White Paper highlights the decade’s long oversight of international climate agreements by the EPW Committee, which proves these agreements, whether Kyoto or Paris, are a poor mechanism to address global climate change and will result in poor policies and economic failures,” said Inhofe.  “It is amazing how little has changed over time.  The Paris agreement, like the Kyoto agreement, is full of empty promises that will have no meaningful impact on the climate.  The problem with international climate change agreements is that they ignore basic economic and political realities and therefore are doomed to failure.  When the hype over the signing fades, the reality will set in that the policies President Obama is promising will not last.  President Obama is simply using this so-called ‘historic’ success to cement his legacy with environmental activists shortly before his term is up.”  


As stated in the executive summary:

April 22, 2016, also known as “International Mother Earth Day,” marks the opening for countries that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to sign the Paris Climate Agreement.  The Paris Agreement, which notably set forth non-binding greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for both developed and developing countries, was adopted at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris, France, on December 12, 2015.  For the Paris Agreement to enter into force, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global GHG emissions must first sign, then ratify the agreement.   

While it is expected that representatives from roughly 130 countries, including the United States, will meet at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, it is critical that the Obama Administration be held accountable for lessons learned from the fallout of its failed predecessor: the Kyoto Protocol. 

Accordingly, this U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Majority Staff White Paper provides a detailed response to the Paris Agreement, reflecting on history and lessons from the Kyoto Protocol that the Obama Administration and public should consider, including:

Kyoto Protocol was similarly considered “historic” with more than 150 countries, including both developed and developing countries, agreed to the protocol at COP-3 in December 1997; however, after an aggressive launch, it took more than seven years until the Protocol was signed then ratified by enough countries for it to enter into force.

Just because a country signs a UNFCCC agreement does not mean the agreement has any legal effect in the country.  The Clinton Administration signed the Kyoto Protocol in November 1998, more than six months after the agreement opened for signature.  President Clinton never submitted it to U.S. Senate for ratification.  In March 2001, President George W. Bush rejected Kyoto and the U.S. never became a party.

Countries that have signed and ratified an agreement have the freedom to act in their best interest and withdraw.  For example, Canada who signed Kyoto in 1997 and ratified it in 2002 withdrew in 2011– even in the midst of the first commitment period. 

Uniquely tailored GHG emission targets are not new.  Kyoto included a variety of targets from 7% reductions to 10% increases that were meant to reflect countries’ abilities, but was met with mixed compliance as countries eventually developed policies that were good for their citizens and economy, rather than arbitrary GHG targets set by the UN.   

Kyoto was legally binding and countries still failed to comply.  Non-binding targets in the Paris Agreement will not produce any greater confidence that countries will comply. 

Kyoto failed to produce a long-term meaningful approach to address global climate change, and so will the Paris Agreement.  Countries adopting costly GHG-cutting policies under Kyoto’s first commitment period devastated their economies and actually increased GHG emissions at a rate faster than the U.S.  Most of these countries have not committed to the second round of Kyoto commitments, which has not even entered into force, and many others have expressed reluctance in joining the Paris Agreement. 

A copy of Lessons From Kyoto: Paris Agreement Will Fail National Economies and the Climate is available by clicking here