Entire EU signs on to Kyoto Enviro Pact
June 1, 2002 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Entire EU signs on to Kyoto Enviro Pact All 15 European Union nations ratified the Kyoto Protocol against global warming yesterday and goaded Washington, which has turned its back on the treaty, to do its part. The pact would have required the United States, which accounted for 36 percent of the industrialized world's greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, to trim emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels.
posted by planetkyoto (37 comments total)
If Europe follows up on its now obligations (after signing this thing), America will be able to buy it for $0.05. Not that there would be much industry left to justify the purchase, but still...
posted by dagny at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2002

The UK, at least, will easily manage to adhere to the Kyoto protocol and indeed go beyond it.
posted by adrianhon at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2002

The UK, at least, will easily manage to adhere to the Kyoto protocol and indeed go beyond it.

I hope that doesn't mean they're going to deprive me of all the goods and services that come out of the UK that I depend on daily. Oh wait. There are none...
posted by RevGreg at 10:48 AM on June 1, 2002

Dagny, Europe's competitiveness is only hampered if the United States fail to follow suit. Now the European Union has unilaterally committed itself there is no excuse for the strongest economy in the market not to honor their obligations to the global environment. There is no longer - if ever - a prisoner's dilemma, instead there is a unique opportunity to push technology in the direction of the more environmentally sound solutions.

More fuel efficient technology is to the benefit of everybody (with the possible exception of the petrol peddlers), and it provides more and cheaper energy to the industry. For example, the most recent fossile fuel-powered power plant in Denmark utilizes up to 94% of the energy in the fuel compared to the max 40% of conventional power plants.
posted by cx at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2002

i kind of look at it as the US possibly falling behind, from a natural capitalism/resource management POV. like i think the investment now in renewable energy (wind farms, hydrogen economy, fuel efficiency, etc.) will pay off down the road. the US will participate if and when it sees this type of technological improvement in its best interest.

that the US doesn't yet is potentially a problem from an externality standpoint that pollution poses, but if the rest of the world takes up the slack, i just think they'll be that much better off--economically, socially and environmentally!

like i think it's good the EU is taking a unilateral leadership role in this regard. if they can prove its benefits, they'll be that much more ahead in emerging 'sustainable industries' that the US, and US business, for the most part is choosing to ignore, or at least forego, at this point in time.

personally, i think reliquishing such leadership is not in the US' best interests, but that's just me :) what's more the EU's stature, by setting an example like this, on the world stage could rise considerably. and perhaps more importantly, it may offer a feeling of solidarity among its members that heretofore has been somewhat lacking. so like they could become more politically cohesive and stuff.
posted by kliuless at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2002

It's interesting that the EU is ratifying this just now. Given the insane Kyoto-based America-hating that has been going on for the last couple years, you woulda thought they had ratified and implemented the thing eons ago.

If Kyoto’s such a good idea, what took the EU so long to sign it and how come Clinton didn’t sign it when he was still in office?

posted by nobody_knose at 11:27 AM on June 1, 2002

the length of time before signing could simply be explained by the time it might take to get the entire EU with different governments, political parties in power and presidents to take a joint decision.
posted by dabitch at 11:31 AM on June 1, 2002

uh huh
posted by nobody_knose at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2002

if it were a chess match, it'd be a gambit :) like the rebel alliance trying to take out the death star!
posted by kliuless at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2002

I'll do my part to help the environment by not purchasing U.S. goods whenever possible. The decision for the U.S. not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is based purely on special interests and ensuring that President Bush is well compensated after he's finished as president.. Would decreasing greenhouse emissions decrease profits? Sure, in the short term, but in the long term the costs will approach that of the technology its replaced by or at least that's what the normal conservative mantra of "supply and demand" would indicate.
posted by substrate at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2002

The Kyoto pact is close to meaningless without the U.S. participation. One proviso is global carbon emissions trading - essentially a market for emissions allowances - that becomes artificial and constrained without Washingtons market power.

I've read Lomborg's criticisms and they are valid from a purely scientific perspective. However, Kyoto is a political process as much as or more than it is a scientific treaty. Agreements now, even of a dubious or insubstantial nature, at least pave the way for, say, future co-operation on the development of alternative energy resources.
posted by vacapinta at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2002

I think Kyoto is much too expensive and impotent to support merely because it might make preliminary political inroads. The point of it is supposed to be substantive change, not an expensive, quasi-political show of unity. A major problem with the EU is using regulation to achieve other goals that have nothing to do with the specifics of the regulation. Actual ecological benefits resulting from Kyoto will be slim; the real benefit will be the augmentation of the already bloated, undemocratic bureaucracy known as the EU.
posted by evanizer at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2002

if the EU plunged over a bridge...oh, wait.
posted by Mick at 1:27 PM on June 1, 2002

what global warming?

perhaps when houston, chicago or LA are hit with something like this we'll look back and wish our government , industry and SUV driving selves had gotten with the program.....
posted by specialk420 at 3:59 PM on June 1, 2002

The reason the US didn't ratify Kyoto is because of the truly massive scale of industry here. For countries like Sweden or the UK to drop their emissions by 15%, it's not that big a deal (relatively speaking, of course).

It's also worth noting that the UK was able to go beyond their emission requirements because a lot of the tradtional polluting industries have moved out of that country to places like Asia. That's a lot like the U.S. complying with Kyoto by moving all those plants to Mexico... which, as people know, has more than it's share of problems.

... just look at the UK's unemployment and corresponding crime rates...
posted by ph00dz at 4:11 PM on June 1, 2002

Why do some think the badly designed Kyoto agreement is some sort of magic bullet that will make environmental problems disappear? No one can dispute that there are environmental problems that need to be dealt with in a proactive manner. But is Global Warming one of them? How can the heat wave in India mentioned above be scientifically be linked to 'Global Warming', and not to some natural climactic pattern? Lomborg's article linked above is an interesting place to start. 'Environmentalism' as a cause would be much better served if we could remove some of the speculative, mythologized invective that clouds and crowds out any real, quantifiable issues. I often relate the popular understanding of the 'environment' with the popular understanding of psychology and mental illness, as both areas have been so thoroughly obscured with misleading, if not outright false, information. Sadly, both are important issues that suffer unless the scientific wheat is separated from the chaff.
posted by evanizer at 4:21 PM on June 1, 2002

evanizer: that's silly - what evidence do you have to support the idea that global warming doesn't exist and that the kyoto treaty is poorly written? do you really feal human activity has little impact on global weather patterns? and that we should wait until there is hard core evidence to support the existence of global warming? wouldn't that be a little late? don't you think we'd better be safe than sorry? isn't it good to at least recognize the problem and start working towards curbing the effects of industry now rather than later?

i don't know. the whole thing seems very simple to me... there are too many humans living on the planet and some of them are living excessive lifestyles that are having more impact on the environment than others and we are all suffering the consequences. so... let's all get together and figure out a way to live a little more within our means either by changing our habits (not likely) or implementing technologies and if this treaty is a step in that direction then good, let's do it.
posted by ggggarret at 4:45 PM on June 1, 2002

US Dept of Labor: US Unemplyment April 2002 6%.
Office of National Statistics UK Unemplyment rate 5.1%

Federal Statistics: US crime down.
Office Of National Statistics: UK crime down.

I'm not entirely sure what point you were trying to make, if it's that 15 years of bitter labour disputes, industrial angst and massive job losses in UK industry have left the economy with a higher services balance than most then you're almost certainly right.

I'm quite impressed by the huge angst shown by many of the contributors here, if Kyoto is stupid and wrong as you say, what do you have to fear? Being right? I'm not entirely sure that it's the right model to be following but at least it's trying to do something rather than brush polution under the carpet. It probably won't 'save the planet' (which is an utterly stupid phrase) but surely people can agree that less nasty things that can kill you = good. Or are we too hardbitten already.
posted by nedrichards at 5:43 PM on June 1, 2002

if Kyoto is stupid and wrong as you say, what do you have to fear?

How about the destruction of the U.S. economy?
posted by gyc at 5:48 PM on June 1, 2002

How about the destruction of the U.S. economy?

I'm sorry gyc, but you are being as reactionary and extreme as those who think Kyoto is a panacea. I believe in the free market's ability to correct itself, but in this case the market is not free and it won't correct itself until millions stop buying their products or an event [resisting urge to use crisis] forces them to. The US economy is so interrelated to many other economies in the world, that once the ramifications of Kyoto begin to take shape then the real fun starts. Many corporations [DiamlerChrisler, VW, AEG, etc] are/have entities that bridge both the EU and the US. So if the EU makes doing business harder and/or more expensive, what do you think Transnational X will do? Of course they will move, and those that won't will either adapt and become stronger or fail. That is why I am not worried about the EU implementing Kyoto, I even applaud them. It was a ballsy move that obviously took awhile to hammer out and have all nations agree on.
posted by plemeljr at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2002

What I meant to say was what pemeljr said a bit better. If Kyoto is a disaster then the US economy should have a competative advantage over the EU which it can use to grow even more powerful. So why the fear about other nations doing something if you're doing so perfectly fine on your own?
posted by nedrichards at 6:14 PM on June 1, 2002

How about the destruction of the U.S. economy?

The U.S. economy is too resilient to be destroyed by Kyoto. Slowed down a bit until we adjusted to new technologies, fine, but not destroyed. On the other hand, there are other ways to destroy the economy that are more worth worrying about.
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on June 1, 2002

If you think something like Kyoto will destroy the U.S. economy, you obviously have little faith in the economy as a whole. Yes, regulations act as a quick punch in the gut to the industries that they enforce. But in the long term, it will not signal destruction as much as it will change. It will signal a shift in the companies and men that make the decisions for the nation -- it will mark a shift in the companies that people work for. You wouldn't be destroying one thing, you'd be opening up doors for others. The US economy is pretty resilient that way.

There are plenty of alternative energy sources out there, but none of them have the lobbying power and political clout of the oil industry right now. That two good old boys are President and VP (with a ton of cabinet members and advisors) pretty effectively shows that. This is why the US is stalled on reducing emissions and finding out cleaner energy, not because it will adversely affect the economy.
posted by dogmatic at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2002

When Japanese and German industry starts making more money than the U.S., then the U.S. will change. Until then, don't hold your breath. (unless of course, you're trying to avoid the toxins in our air)

This whole thing is very simple: other countries are trying to dictate economic policy to us. You'll have better luck forcing all Americans to wear little red fez hats before you get us to let a foreign 'protocol' tinker with our economy. We're too busy letting our own tinkerers play with it.

This is why the US is stalled on reducing emissions and finding out cleaner energy, not because it will adversely affect the economy.

Of course lobbyists are involved, but the fact is, it costs money to transition from one form of energy to another. Furthermore, it is still a lot cheaper to power a car on oil than on solar cells, or simply batteries (GM's heavily subsidized attempt failed to be cost effective). The hybrid combination looks very promising, and hopefully the Japanese and German car companies try it will be successful. Competition will dictate that these companies change. GMC has, for a while, been working on producing a gas/electric hybrid. The market will transition more quickly and efficiently than any mandated, top-down program. Consumer demand is the key, and it will always be more powerful than lobbyists and world opinion.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:14 PM on June 1, 2002

So...as the treaty-signers get cleaner, we can get dirtier, with no atmospheric surcharge...our belching city on a hill will sport shiny, EU-polished stanchions...very nice, big-time.

From its atrophied head, long since drained and buried in the sand, rises its huge, flatulent ass, which loudly honks its toxic gases into the common air; but small, glowing creatures can still be found skittering around in its shadow, frantically jumping up and down, waving their little arms, and squeaking, "We're not all like this - really - we're not!".
posted by Opus Dark at 10:28 PM on June 1, 2002

it is still a lot cheaper to power a car on oil than on solar cells, or simply batteries

For Americans, yes: gas and oil are much cheaper to power a car with -- but only because the oil industry is directly and indirectly subsidized by the US government. Take away the artificial prices that American consumers pay for their gasoline, replace them with those paid by the world at large (covnerted to Japanese yen, 3/4 down the chart), and I guarantee that hybrid and battery-powered automobiles will become more attractive to US consumers.

You argue that consumer demand will drive the transition to alternative fuels, I argue that consumer demand is driven by artificial prices and an economic policy that panders to Big Oil. Chicken or egg?
posted by dogmatic at 10:29 PM on June 1, 2002

A better link comparing average gas prices around the world (and in US dollars!)
posted by dogmatic at 10:45 PM on June 1, 2002

You argue that consumer demand will drive the transition to alternative fuels, I argue that consumer demand is driven by artificial prices and an economic policy that panders to Big Oil. Chicken or egg?

I'm arguing that consumer demand is the best way to transition to alternative fuels. I did not discuss what drives consumer demand, however. Tastes and preferences control demand, not price, but price does affect the quantity of demand. So, everyone could want clean electric cars, but if the cheapest one was $80,000, the quantity demanded would be miniscule. So you're right, the government can screw with the market. I guess we agree then, as long as I clarify my point so that the consumer demand driving the change is not sullied by government and oil interests.

Still, under current conditions, the change could occur, since you are forgetting that while government subsidizes oil, it also levies heavy taxes on gasoline. It's hard to see through the mire of intervention how much gas would actually cost the average consumer. 50 mpg is a very attractive number, and 30 mpg on a full size truck is downright spectacular. The convenience of not needing to fill up too frequently alone is a major selling point.

Wow, gas only costs the Kuwaitis 7 cents a gallon.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:44 AM on June 2, 2002

This whole thing is very simple: other countries are trying to dictate economic policy to us. You'll have better luck forcing all Americans to wear little red fez hats before you get us to let a foreign 'protocol' tinker with our economy. We're too busy letting our own tinkerers play with it.

When was the last time you tinkered with the economy?

Who is it that does the tinkering?

Why do we let the "tinkerers" tinker with it in the way we do?

Why do we believe what they say is best for us?

Is it more important to have petrol-glut freedom in America, for the time being, than it is that we hedge our bets on a potential global catastrophe?

This isn't about policy and how it's inevitably spun so that we as simple citizens throw up our arms in confusion and continual dynamics of it all and say "I've got my own shit to worry about (401ks, paycheck to paycheckness, pretty soon after I've worked my fucking ass off for three years I've saved up enough to go on a vacation to Vegas). I'll let them, "The Tinkerers", worry about it." It's about reality. Reality is: how many of us go to Los Angeles in the sole purpose of, to air out? Think. I repeat: the dicussion to be had is not about policy. It is about the reality that none of us chug exhaust pipe to idle the time away. We go to where it is most pristine, when we can. (Ironically something usually petrol fueled, does most of the work to get us there of course)

I'm not going to say petroleum isn't handy. I took a wonderful drive around and about the countryside today, thanks to oil. But, the fact that there remain clean, pristine and natural places today that we hassle ourselves with the on-demand means to get there, speaks volumes as to why the Kyoto treaty is the most important step heretofore that will ever beneficially effect the world we depend on. To even argue about it, or to even profit off of oil, there must be planet full of consumers with expendable income to do it in. Why not protect that venue?

Since we're all sheep, we need to inconvenience ourselves with finding a decent shepherd.
posted by crasspastor at 1:40 AM on June 2, 2002

Chicken or egg?
posted by stuporJIX at 5:20 AM on June 2, 2002

those bastards of the bush administration. how go they dare to treat like that the entire world? they also haven't ratified the international criminal court, assuming that the greatest power for america in the world is its own sovereignity, damned bastards.

well said substrate, we shouldn't buy u.s. products…

the great problem here is that any government or multinational wants to shift to friendly energy. the technology already exists, but there are too many interests there
posted by trismegisto at 8:32 AM on June 2, 2002

Venezuela 1/2001 0.43 0.26 0.24 0.83 0.67

Wow! I'm moving to Venezuela!
posted by crunchland at 8:44 AM on June 2, 2002

Wait, wait!

Kuwait 2000 0.07 0.06 0.02 0.06
posted by crunchland at 8:45 AM on June 2, 2002

How many folks in support of Kyoto are aware that it exempts 132 countries from making any change, including India, Algeria, Mexico and China, the world's 2nd largest Co2 polluter?
posted by nobody_knose at 9:13 AM on June 2, 2002

In 1997, while the negotiations were continuing, the Senate of the US passed the Byrd-Hagel resolution.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997, or thereafter, which would--

(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or

(B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States; and

(2) any such protocol or other agreement which would require the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification should be accompanied by a detailed explanation of any legislation or regulatory actions that may be required to implement the protocol or other agreement and should also be accompanied by an analysis of the detailed financial costs and other impacts on the economy of the United States which would be incurred by the implementation of the protocol or other agreement.

The above is via USS Clueless
posted by Zool at 6:22 PM on June 2, 2002

Climate Changing, U.S. Says in Report

"In a stark shift for the Bush administration, the United States has sent a climate report to the United Nations detailing specific and far-reaching effects that it says global warming will inflict on the American environment.

"In the report, the administration for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming. It says the main culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

posted by homunculus at 8:43 PM on June 2, 2002

IMO, the USA is marginalizing itself by rejecting the Kyoto Accord. The US has, what, 5% of the world's population and 15% of the land mass? It's a global economy, kiddies, and you're a bit player in the bigger picture... piss of the world, and you sink yourselves.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:08 PM on June 3, 2002

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