After agreement was reached in December 1997 on the Kyoto Protocol, its supporters pronounced that major carbon reductions were feasible and probable. Just do it, as the Nike commercial said. Build it and they will come, as the Field of Dreams movie said. And during the eight years of George W. Bush, Kyoto supporters complained mightily that we were leaving dollars on the ground, so to speak, while running out of climate and time.
Now under Obama
the environmental Left realizes that a federal program to reduce CO2 emissions may not occur this year because of the economy. Here, for example is an exchange between Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Berger and Rice University’s Neal Lane, a global warming alarmist from the Clinton Administration days:
Q. [Berger] Do you see the Obama administration being able to get a meaningful carbon dioxide emissions reduction bill through Congress?
A. [Lane] I think so. What’s in the way of that, of course, is the economic crisis. Understandably, that has to be dealt with first. So I would expect it will be hard for the administration to move forward as rapidly on climate change as they had intended to do (emphasis added).
So what happened to the idea that a carbon diet would give the economy a nutritious free lunch? We have heard for so long that economists got it all wrong with their high cost estimates of meeting Kyoto.
In his book Cool Companies (1999, pp. 2, 218), for example, Joe Romm stated that self-interested energy savings by “any significant fraction of U.S. companies” would allow America to “meet the Kyoto targets while lowering the nation’s annual energy bill by tens of billions of dollars and accelerating economic growth through productivity gains (emphasis added).”
And here we are a decade later with U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent above 1990 levels versus our Kyoto assignment of 7 percent below 1990 emissions. And remember, Kyoto barely begins to reverse out the human influence on climate from the alarmists’ own math.
It is an open secret that a climate bill in 2009 is improbable. States Romm over at Climate Progress:
I can’t find a single reporter, staffer, or wonk who thinks we’re going to have a climate bill this year. As the NYT reported earlier this month, “advisers and allies have signaled that they may put off … restricting carbon emissions.”
Can there be any doubt that the future federal regulatory program–now looking like the year 2010 or later–will be watered down with any big emission reductions scheduled in the out years when the targets can be easily reversed (the economy comes first, remember)? Are Left environmentalists going to be forgiving then too?
Can even climate alarmists have second thoughts about the extent of “market failure” in light of “government failure” and ramp-down their futile crusade? Will some or more rebel against corporate welfare and the T. Boone Pickens’ of the world? Will they think more about the welfare of energy consumers, particularly lower income ones? The climate civil war is one that nobody needs.