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Category — Kyoto Protocol

As the Kyoto Protocol Dies, Remember Those Who Called It (Part II)

Yesterday’s post presented a series of quotations on why a global agreement to ration the most utilitarian of energies–oil, gas, and coal–was doomed to failure. Today, Part II provides a series of quotations on the moral dilemma and economic distortions of trying to do so.

From this the question arises: what if the resources and spirit dedicated to the futile, misdirected climate crusade went instead to the truly noble cause of promoting capitalism and industrialization for the 1.3 billion living in statist poverty?

It is time to change minds one at a time to the heroic task of promoting human freedom to advance prosperity at home and abroad–an inspiration for many of us going in 2013.

More quotations follow on the pernicious wealth effects and all-pain/no-gain aspects of carbon rationing as envisioned by the Kyoto Protocol.

Wealth Effects (Pernicious)

“In reality, Kyoto was a huge transfer of resources from the United States to the Third World, under the guise of environmental protection.”

- Charles Krauthammer, “The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism,” The Weekly Standard, June 4, 2001, p. 23. [Read more →]

December 27, 2012   2 Comments

As the Kyoto Protocol Dies, Remember Those Who Called It (Part I)

“It’s the weakest text I have ever seen. It’s a travesty of the process and commitments. It can be summed up in two words: We’ll talk.”

- Farukh Khan, Pakistan lead negotiator, quoted in Lisa Friedman, “After A Bruising Parley, Climate Conference Veers Toward a Successor to Kyoto Pact.” E&E Climate News, December 19, 2012.

“The total efforts of the last 20 years of climate policy has likely reduced global emissions by less than 1 percent, or about 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.”

- Bjorn Lomborg, “Climate Course Correction.” Foreign Policy, October 2012.

Notable voices with the conviction to speak truth to power predicted the futility of the global global-warming agreement of 1997, better known as the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, the rent-seekers applauded the prospect of new competitive space–such as Enron with its seven profit-centers. And so did anti-industrial environmental groups, who welcomed something over nothing and then tried to tongue-lash the world into believing that a post-carbon world was viable and thus the inevitable future. (It was neither.)

A review of insightful quotations from a decade or more ago is timely with the end of the original Kyoto compliance period (2008–12). Yes, several weeks ago at Doha, Qatar, the United Nations’ annual climate conference (COPS 18) extended the compliance period by five years. But with few nations under any real obligation, and even fewer in compliance, the Kyoto agreement is a dead man walking.

The quotations follow: [Read more →]

December 26, 2012   3 Comments

‘Reconstructing Climate Policy: Beyond Kyoto’ (AEI: 2003) Revisited

Reconstructing Climate Policy: Beyond Kyoto By Richard B. Stewart and Jonathan B. Wiener 193 pp., Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute Press, 2003. This review was published in Regulation magazine (Cato Institute). MasterResource revisits Mr. Singer’s book review and asks: how does it read today?

What is it about academic economists that makes them salivate like Pavlovian dogs whenever they hear the magic words “market solution”? Sure, market-based solutions are always more efficient and less liable to be politically influenced than those based on command-and-control. But before we apply solutions, should we not first ask if there is a problem that needs to be solved?

And so it is with this book. The authors confidently assert the existence of a future climate problem more or less on faith, but they also see many difficulties with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that is supposed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. So they propose a clever alternative to Kyoto — yet another solution to a non-problem.

They visualize a U.S.-China bilateral deal to limit emissions (mainly of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning) that would operate in parallel with the Kyoto Protocol (which neither country plans to ratify). In their plan, the United States buys emission rights from an arbitrary excess quota allotted to China. The authors call it “headroom” but I call it a subsidy. The United States pays, China gets, and the atmosphere does not benefit because emissions continue essentially unabated.

Eventually and somehow, this U.S.-China deal is supposed to merge with Kyoto. Every nation in the world would then actually limit its emissions, and thereby save the climate, humanity, and Lord knows what else. What a pious hope!

Gentlemen’s Agreement

What else is wrong with the Stewart-Wiener scheme? Plenty, although it may be no worse than another dozen or so clever schemes thought up by other lawyers, economists, and policy analysts that are duly referenced in this volume but never critically discussed. Is there some kind of gentlemen’s agreement here? [Read more →]

January 11, 2012   8 Comments

Remembering ‘Green’ Enron (Part I: The Kyoto Moment)

[Ed. note: This week marks the 10th anniversary of Enron's bankruptcy filing (December 2, 2001). Enron's view of energy sustainability drives the Obama Administration's "green 'dream' team" today, so such a look back at Enron's crony capitalism is merited.]

Beginning in the late 1980s, global warming became a bread-and-butter issue for Ken Lay, Enron’s leader and up-and-coming industry visionary. Enron in the 1990s became a full-fledged “green” company, practicing “energy sustainability” with its investments in solar power, wind power, energy-efficiency services, and environmental services.

No U.S.-based company sounded the tocsin over climate change more than Enron. What John Browne did as head of the international energy major BP, Ken Lay did in the United States, working with interest groups and political leaders to push the energy industry and public toward carbon dioxide (CO2) regulation.

Lay had his reasons—seven in terms of company profit centers, all of which stood to gain from government restrictions on carbon emissions. They involved:

· Natural gas production (relative to oil and coal),

· Natural gas transmission (relative to oil and coal),

· Natural gas-fired electric generation (relative to oil and coal),

· Energy outsourcing (a/k/a energy efficiency) services,

· Renewable energy generation (wind and solar),

· CO2 emissions trading (joining company trading in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide), and

· Environmental outsourcing (a/k/a environmental services).

Of these, Enron’s natural gas activities were core, profitable activities (and “win, win” economically and environmentally, in their important applications). But the last four areas were problematic from the start and never profitable, even with special government favor. In retrospect, almost no amount of government subsidy would have been enough for these nascent businesses. [Read more →]

December 1, 2011   18 Comments