Cato Handbook for Congress: Policy Recommendations for the 106th Congress

By Edward H. Crane; David Boaz | Go to book overview
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47.
Global Warming

Congress should resist attempts to impose costly reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases in order to limit global warming.


Background

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol require the United States to reduce the net emissions of carbon dioxide and other important greenhouse gases to 7 percent below 1990 levels, on average, for the five-year period beginning in 2008. The Framework Convention and the protocol are based on a naive interpretation of a science that now views reductions in carbon dioxide as a very inefficient way to influence climate change. As a result, the economic costs of the convention and protocol are enormous, and the benefits are undetectable. Even if all the world's nations met their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, there would be no discernible effect on the globe's climate.

The Framework Convention was signed by the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. As originally conceived, the purpose of the convention was “to prevent dangerous human interference in the climate system.” The original goal was to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal human “greenhouse” gas, to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Only two nations have met that goal, and they have done so because of historic changes unrelated to environmental concerns. In 1990 the reunification of Germany resulted in the absorption of the wildly polluting East, whose economic inefficiency was so great that much of its industry was simply shut down. Great Britain met the target because of privatization of the coal industry.

Carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have risen approximately 15 percent since 1990. But at Kyoto in December 1997 the Clinton

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