NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Resurrecting Kyoto

February 13, 2003

The Kyoto Protocol for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions didn't generate much enthusiasm among most politicians. President Bush called it "fundamentally flawed" when he nixed it and the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in 1997 requiring the Clinton administration not to participate in any global warming agreement that did not meet certain conditions.

Nevertheless, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) are co-sponsoring a bill which would implement a moderately less onerous version of Kyoto -- a sort of "Kyoto lite."

  • The bill would establish greenhouse gas reduction targets for every major sector of the economy -- including energy, manufacturing and transportation -- not just power plants.
  • The legislation relies on a "cap-and-trade" mechanism -- which experts say is probably the way to go if something must be done, which they strongly doubt.
  • They fault the bill for including CO2 -- which is not a pollutant, nor toxic at any foreseeable atmospheric levels.
  • Forcing industry to cut CO2 emissions -- which would mean reducing energy use -- would only make today's bad economic situation worse, critics reason.

Commenting on a less comprehensive bill offered by Sen. Lieberman in 2002, the Energy Information Agency concluded it would reduce gross domestic product by eight-tenths of 1 percent in 2007, or about $100 billion, with a loss of about 1 million jobs.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett (National Center for Policy Analysis), "A Back Door to Kyoto?) Washington Times, February 13, 2003.


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