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Many Countries Off-Course for Kyoto:

The Associated Press reports:

With few exceptions, the world's big industrialized nations are struggling to meet the greenhouse gas reductions they committed to in the embattled Kyoto pact on climate change. Europe is veering off course, Japan is still far from its target and Canada has given up. . . .

Among the worst off is Canada, the current president of U.N. climate change talks, which this year became the first country to announce it would not meet its Kyoto target of a 6 percent emissions cut on average over the years 2008-2012. Canada's emissions have ballooned by 29 percent instead. . . .

Japan, too, has a long way to go to meet its reduction. If no additional measures are taken, U.N. forecasts show Japan's emissions will grow by 6 percent, instead of shrink by the same rate as mandated by the treaty.

Aiko Takemoto, an official at the Environment Ministry's climate change division, noted that the bulk of increased emissions came during the 1990s and emissions are forecast to fall. He said the government's Kyoto Achievement Plan implemented last year will help Japan achieve the target rates by 2012. . . .

The European Union, perhaps the biggest champion of the Kyoto pact, is doing better. But even here, the latest statistics are cause for concern.

The EU believes it can meet its target of cutting emissions by 8 percent by 2012, but only with the full implementation of an emissions trading scheme and two big ''ifs.''

First, countries including Germany and France must introduce environmental policies that are currently only in the planning stages. Second, many must make full use of carbon credits for investing in clean technology projects in developing countries.

''It's a whole list of things that need to be achieved to reach the target,'' said Andre Jols of the European Environment Agency. ''Basically all of that has to happen. If it does not, there will be a problem.''

The European Environment Agency said greenhouse emissions increased by 18 million tons, or 0.4 percent, between 2003 and 2004 in the 25-member bloc.

Had the United States ratified the Kyoto Protocol it would likely be in a similar situation. Meeting Kyoto targets would have required energy reductions in the neighborhood of 30 percent from present levels. This fact and the widespread opposition to a Kyoto-style approach to climate change are the reasons Kyoto was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. The United States has not officially "withdrawn" from Kyoto, however (as the U.S. did with the I.C.C.). Instead, the U.S. remains a signatory and an active participant in international climate meetings, just not as a party to the agreement.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration's failure to be more aggressive on climate change continues to provoke the ire of environmentalist groups, even though the Clinton-Gore administration was similarly reticent to adopt substantive policy measures. Reuters reports:

He's set up the world's largest protected marine reserve, raised air pollution standards and pledged to end damaging fishing, but President Bush still draws environmentalists' ire for his stance on global warming.

Ecologically minded critics view Bush's many "green" initiatives as incremental steps -- not the sort of bold action they say is needed to combat global climate change.

Environmentalists say Bush has focused on "safe, second-tier issues" rather than address controversial matters. Again, however, it is interesting that this administration has taken steps (however haltingly) to address the urgent over-fishing problem, whereas its predecessor did nothing meaningful in this regard. There is much to fault in the Bush Administration's environmental record, but also more to credit than environmental activists are willing to acknowledge.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. EU to Consider Climate Tariff?
  2. Many Countries Off-Course for Kyoto:
thedaddy (mail):
Johnathon,
After what you quoted in the first few paragraphs above how can you say what you did in your close?
You are drinking the Kyoto Kool Aid here.

Kyoto is a bad joke, "environmentalist' are a worse joke and faulting the United States for any "environmental" shortcoming vs the rest of the world is just sophistry.

I would expect more inteligent coments from an allegedly educated person.

thedaddy
10.10.2006 9:52am
johnt (mail):
A condition that Japan demanded and received was that the treaty would be unenforcable, although just how it would have been enforced is another question. So from the get go Kyoto was a farce. That and the U S Senate showing absolutly no interest in ratification make this one of the better myths in liberal la la land.
Europe is doing better than most at the attempt, but it helps that Europeans have to leave their paychecks at the gas pump.
If you look for this story on the 6:30 news lead in or the front pages of our newspapers you are ripe for a purchase of moonrock. The champions of the " Peoples Right to Know" set limitations on that right, which you have to do if you're cultivating an alternate universe.
10.10.2006 10:07am
davod (mail):
If Kyoto was never submitted to the Senate what was the 98-0 vote for in the late 90s.
10.10.2006 10:51am
Cornellian (mail):
Europe is doing better than most at the attempt, but it helps that Europeans have to leave their paychecks at the gas pump.

Not to mention being, on average, a whole lot warmer than Canada and a whole lot more densely populated.
10.10.2006 11:18am
Eli Rabett (www):
Davod asks what the 98-0 vote was for. Posturing?
10.10.2006 11:19am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
The 98-0 vote was on the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, a non-binding resolution adopted by the Senate before the Clinton Administration had signed Kyoto. It was interpreted as a vote against Kyoto because the primary provisions of Kyoto were known at the time, and the resolution specifically rejected some of those provisions, such as the exemption of rapidly developing countries from emission targets. The vote was not so much "posturing" as it was a message to the Administration (and other countries) as to where the Senate stood on the issue. While some of the 98 would no doubt vote in favor of such a treaty today, it nonetheless suggests no such treaty could get a Senate majority (let alone the super-majority required to ratify a treaty).

JHA
10.10.2006 11:54am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
thedaddy,

Wait is your argument really that global warming isn't a big problem since the Kyoto protocol isn't very effective?

Now I have serious issues with most enviornmmentalists. I think many of them don't understand that the reason to save the enviornment is to benefit people. Frequently they fail to prioritize properly, worrying about the extinction of some furry animal as much as they worry about global warming. Many of them have unreasonable opposition to technological solutions (nuclear power..esp greenpeace and fusion) and seem bizarely insistent that doing good for the enviornment should be painful. In short much (not all) of the enviornmental movement is comprised of people who feel strong emotions about nature and act on these rather than rational priorities.

However, whatever opinion you have of the enviornmental movement in general should have nothing to do with whether you believe the scientists on global warming. Scientists are not enviornmental crazies, they have contemplated and compared competing explanations and did not forma consensus until several independent lines of evidence pointed to human caused global warming. While hardly of the same level of certainty their are several very scary but possible scenarios when global tempratures get too high.

Disliking a political movement just isn't a good reason to ignore scientific evidence. Sure the enviornmentalist movement might make you want to vomit (as I sometimes feel) but that isn't a good scientific argument. In short the science is the science and your opinion of it should have little to do with your political views.

I find it absolutely mind boggling how so many people's views on global warming seem to be influenced by their political beliefs. I can't think of a more clear cut cast of reasoning from the conclusions.

Of course whether Kyoto is a good idea is another question. I think it might have made a good symbolic gesture, at least if the US signed it. However, any actual program to deal with global warming must cover the third world or industry will merely relocated and pollute more.

If things keep going like this we may be forced to use global cooling countermeasures to stop tempratures from rising (e.g. injecting sulfuric pollutants into the upper atmosphere). It's a bit worrying that we don't really know what these things would do so I hope people start studying this question now.
10.10.2006 12:45pm
magoo (mail):
Jonathan -- You appropriately note the failings of the Clinton-Gore Administration on global warming. Their failings are especially difficult to fathom, given that Mr. Gore had, years before, written his environmental bestseller calling for "Marshall Plan" on global warming and urging that it become the "central organizing principle" of our society. While VP, he spent more time on Total Quality Management and other passing fads than on his central organizing principle. Here's one environmentalist who remains deeply disappointed.
10.10.2006 1:24pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Environmentalists say Bush has focused on "safe, second-tier issues" rather than address controversial matters. Again, however, it is interesting that this administration has taken steps (however haltingly) to address the urgent over-fishing problem, whereas its predecessor did nothing meaningful in this regard. There is much to fault in the Bush Administration's environmental record, but also more to credit than environmental activists are willing to acknowledge.


Agreed and I think the problem in large part lies with environmentalists who decided to dub Bush the "Toxic Texan" before he was ever elected President which gives a fair indication of how they were going to treat him or any proposals by his administration in the months and years ahead. Former EPA head Christie Todd Whitman wrote a rather scathing editorial in the Washington Post when she left the administration at environmentalist groups who were more interested in sending out fundraising letters with doomsday scenarios than in working with the administration to find practical solutions to environmental problems. This contrasts rather sharply with the experience of advocates of third world debt relief like Bono who decided that finding solutions was more important than having a cause . . . or making an enemy to make yourself look good amongst your peers.
10.10.2006 2:06pm
Sigivald (mail):
logic: Some scientists are, in fact, crazies. And the "consensus" is considerably more fragile than you make out, to the extent it exists at all. (And remember that consensus is not a scientific principle at all - the "consensus" has been wrong many a time, just as the "dissent" has been. Having to resort to "consensus" merely reenforces that the actual science has not reached a strong or convincing conclusion.)

I would not worry much about "Things going on like this" requiring us to Save The World with Drastic Measures. Thirty-odd years ago, remember, "if things go on like this, we'll have to paint the poles black to stop an ice age" was a common idea.

Further, a "possible" scenario, I remind you, is not the same as a probable one, or a likely one, or even one with a more than one in several trillion chance of occurring; it's simply one that isn't impossible.

I argue strongly against "symbolic" gestures that are incredibly damaging to the world economy (as Kyoto would be under every analysis I've seen that didn't involve a handwaving "green boom" whose explanation was indistinguishable from the broken-windows fallacy) - after all, even if you're right, symbolism won't stop the problem, and damaging the world economy as greatly as Kyoto would would make it much, much harder to take the very "global action" to save the world that you argue is the solution to the same worst case you apparently base the argument on.

Given the extremely tentative and shaky nature of the science behind anthropogenic global warming, I can't say I see the point in such measures, apart from the ineffective feeling of Being Doing Something About It - but that feeling is not the same as actual practical effect.

(Now, non-human-caused global warming as part of the normal changes in the global climate is much more plausible. But not really something I feel compelled to do something about - global stasis is not my goal, and it's not achievably anyway. Humanity has survived, in just the past few thousand years or so, a "climactic optimum" or two, where vineyards were making wine in Britain and Greenland had farms, and a "little ice age" where the opposite sort of thing happened - neither of which can plausibly be blamed on human action.

Plus, if we're concerned with human costs rather than Gaia worship, we can get much more for much less in other ways, like pulling millions upon millions of people out of grinding poverty.)
10.10.2006 2:09pm
KeithK (mail):

I find it absolutely mind boggling how so many people's views on global warming seem to be influenced by their political beliefs. I can't think of a more clear cut cast of reasoning from the conclusions.

It is certainly true that many people "reason from their conclusions" on this issue. But it's probably hard not to. While a majority of scientists do seem to agree that global warming is a man made problem that has the potential to be catastrophic, there are plenty of others who credibly disagree. The observer is forced to choose between two contrasting sets of conclusions. In this situation it's very easy and perhaps natural to be swayed by ones own political predisposition.
10.10.2006 2:11pm
Bill Woods (mail):
A couple of nitpicks:
The vote on Senate Resolution 98, the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, was only 95-0.
The U.S., represented by VP Gore, did sign Kyoto.
10.10.2006 2:44pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Overfishing is a HUGE issue. I'll bet we could get a lot more mileage out of cooperation with Japan on that if we'd let them hunt a few whales a year, rather than banning whale hunting altogether.
10.10.2006 2:52pm
godfodder (mail):
Jonathan:
The lack of credit for the Bush Administration among environmentalists can be easily explained by the party affiliation of most environmentalists.

We live in an era of hyper-partisanship; a phenomenon that is particularly intense on the political Left. Bush cannot be credited with anything that is good. Period, finito.

Even a blind squirrel can occasionally find an acorn. But not the Bush Administration. They could not be more thoroughly wrong, even if they tried. It's just a natural phenomenon that you have to accept. Like... oh, I dunno, global waming.
10.10.2006 3:05pm
Xmas (mail) (www):
Wait a second!

Isn't the US part of the that carbon emission reduction pact with Australia? Aren't we trying to give technology to third world countries and powerhouse developing Asian countries like India and China which will help them reduce emissions?
10.10.2006 3:59pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Isn't the US part of the that carbon emission reduction pact with Australia? Aren't we trying to give technology to third world countries and powerhouse developing Asian countries like India and China which will help them reduce emissions?


Yes
10.10.2006 6:27pm
srp (mail):
Logicnazi: You should read Myanna Lahsen, "Seductive Simulations? Uncertainty Distribution Around Climate Models," Social Studies in Science, Dec. 2005, 895-922. She did 6 years of participant-observer fieldwork at various US climate modeling centers, including her base at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., as well as 100 semi-structured interviews with atmospheric scientists.

Most of her paper addresses non-political and non-ideological reasons for modeler overconfidence and overstatement of confidence, but she does say on p.904-6:

"According to Shackley and Wynne, modelers sometimes deliberately present their models in ways that suggest and encourage exaggerated faith in their accuracy. The authors identify a duality in climate modelers' discourse, observing that they shift between strong claims to scientifc authority (models as 'truth machines') and more modest claims about models as aids to thinking about the world (models as 'heuristics'). Though modelers lack a conceptual basis for knowing whether the long-term climate is predictable, their discourse often moves from describing long-term global climate predicitions as being possible *in principle*, but presently unrealized and uncertain, to suggesting that their models are in fact predictive. My interviews documented this tendency with testimony from modelers themselves, confirming my own observations....

The centrality of models in politics can also shape how modelers and others woho promote concern about climate change present them. GCMs [global climate models] figure centrally in heated political controversies about the reality of climate change, the impact of human activities, and competing policy options. In this context, caveats, qualifications, and other acknowledgements of model limitations can become fodder for the anti-environmental movement...

In such a charged political context, modelers learn to exercise care in how they present their models in public forums. The need for such care is sometimes impressed explicitly upon them by scientists who have experience in national and international climate politics. Speaking to a full room of NCAR scientists in 1994, a prominent scientist and frequent governmental advisor on global change warned an audience mostly made up of atmospheric scientists to be cautious about public expressions of reservations about the models. 'Choose carefully your adjectives to describe the models,' he said, 'Confidence or lack of confidence in the models is the deciding factor in whether or not there will be policy reponse on behalf of climate change.'...

It is thus correct to distinguish, as Shackley and Wynne do, between how modelers speak among themselves and how they speak to 'external audiences.' Climate modelers and advisory scientists use strong claims--invoking models as 'truth machines' and downplaying uncertainty--in communications directed 'outside' of the modeling community, and such discourse does not necessarily reflect their more private discussions."

In short, Logicnazi, climate modelers are political actors trying to influence you to support their policy objectives, not dispassionate natural philosophers. I would speculate that their preconceived policy objectives come from the usual ideological sources--who, after all, is likely to go into environmental sciences than someone who is motivated by green views of some sort? It's like the old joke about psychiatrists all being a little bit nutty. The scientists involved in these matters are not pristinely separate from the environmental movement. They are an integral part of that movement.
10.10.2006 8:07pm
Randy R. (mail):
Yeah, and all those glaciers that are melting are liberal environmentalist glaciers, not like those good 'cloth coat' Republican glaciers we used to have years ago....
10.10.2006 9:29pm
spider:
JohnAnnArbor: Actually, despite the ban on commercial whaling, the US does let Japan hunt a few whales per year, as "scientific whaling" under ICRW article 8.1. Mid-level US diplomats occasionally complain about it, but we don't do anything, as it is clearly legal under the treaty.
10.11.2006 3:15am
markm (mail):
"Yeah, and all those glaciers that are melting are liberal environmentalist glaciers, not like those good 'cloth coat' Republican glaciers we used to have years ago...."

And that makes those former Viking farms in Greenland Republican too? Because the snow burying them is a long way from melting away. Southern Greenland may be getting warmer, but it's not nearly as warm as it was a thousand years ago.

Maybe Greenland is an exception to an overall warming trend, but before I ignore it, I want two things from those displaying the "Hockey Stick" graph or otherwise claiming that the world is now warmer than it has been in 1,000 years:

1) A model that shows Greenland being left out of or far behind the warming trend.

2) An explanation of how you know that the spots where the Hockey Stick was measured are more representative of global temperatures than the many areas where historical records tell a quite different story.
10.12.2006 1:22pm
srp (mail):
As to Republican glaciers: Personally, I don't think it matters whether the earth is warming or whether the warming is man-made to decide that the Kyoto approach is bogus. It's clearly an ineffective and hideously expensive approach to the problem, even assuming that one exists and that it makes sense to try to actively plan the world's climate.

The point of quoting Lahsen's paper was to refute Logicnazi's notion that scientists with pro-green conclusions are objective and non-political in the presentation of their research. The evidence for this pervasive bias has long been obvious to anyone who can read for context or who follows science politics (look at the old "nuclear winter" discussion, for example), but Lahsen's nuanced and carefully observed account is even more convincing.

Science is like the stock morket: In the short run, it's a voting machine, but in the long run it's a weighing machine.
10.12.2006 6:03pm