KYOTO DAY 12, December 12, 1997
National Environmental Trust's
Kyoto Press & Field Briefing #11
Wrap-up from the Global Warming Summit
Coal State Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) Releases Statement Praising American Negotiating Team
Reacting to the conclusion of the Kyoto negotiations, US Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), author of the Byrd-Hagel Senate Resolution on US climate change, praised the success of US negotiators in obtaining an emissions trading mechanism and joint implementation of projects across national borders.
In a statement released today, Sen. Byrd refused to go along with threats to kill the treaty in the Senate and stated his hopes that continued negotiations would culminate in a global and effective treaty to control greenhouse gases.
Phil Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust, Labels Industry Attack on Climate Change Treaty Outcome as Unfounded
On the Significance of Kyoto:
The successful Kyoto negotiations are truly an historic landmark for protecting the environment of the planet. For the first time the developed nations of the world hammered out a blueprint for averting global climate change by agreeing to blinding commitments to reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The U.S. has helped draw the painting, now they have time to put in the color.
On the U.S. Negotiators:
The U.S. negotiators took a string position in Kyoto and got virtually all they asked for in the talks. The U.S. yielded relatively little in return. In the end, the developed countries agreed to the U.S. proposals of a trading mechanism aimed at achieving greenhouse gas reductions at the lowest cost and joint return, the U.S. yielded somewhat on emission targets, going slightly below its starting position of 1990 levels by the year 2010. In the end, the U.S. agreed to a nominal 6% reduction for developed countries in Annex I, with Europe reducing by 8%, the U.S. by 7% and Japan 6%. However, when loopholes are taken into account, the U.S. reductions will be more in the 2.5-3% below 1990 levels range.
On Developing Countries:
The developing countries did not reject the U.S. position of joining in the accord during the negotiations because developed countries never had the time to negotiate with developing countries. Most of the negotiating time was spent in talks between developed countries. Developing countries only had four hours to review the text of the protocol and give an answer not enough time to even contact their respective capitals for instructions. It is unfortunate that the Administration did not prepare enough in advance to accomplish meaningful negotiations with developing countries but the negotiations did not fail. South Korea, South Africa, Mexico and other countries supported the trading idea but needed more time for study and a response. The negotiations between the U.S. and the developing countries is, therefore, only beginning and there is plenty of time for agreement to emerge before the next talks in Buenos Aires in November, 1998.
Important Mechanisms for Emissions Trading and Clean Development Encourage Developing Countries to Join Industrialized Nations
Speaking at a press conference today, Vice President Al Gore said that the agreement reached in Kyoto, Japan, yesterdsay contains key policy tools which will provide incentives to encourage developing countires to join with industrialized nations in making significant commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Vice President also said that bilateral negotiations will continue throughout 1998 to bring developing countries into compliance with the pact.
The Vice President noted that there was mounting sentiment in the U.S. to dispel the myth that continued robust economic growth and a healthy environment were mutually exclusive. He said that public opinion will support this treaty, because people believe we can protect the planet without hurting the economy.
Industry Scrambles to Misrepresent Treaty to Developing Countries and American Public
As negotiators worked around the clock to finish an agreement, industry lobbyists were already working to scuttle the historic accord. Some said the U.S. Senate would not ratify the document agreed to Wednesday because it covered only industrailized nations. Administration officials, including the Vice President, and negotiators at Kyoto made it clear, however, that between now and the follow-up meeting next year in Buenos Aires, key policy tools in the treaty will provide incentives for developing countries to make commitments. Other industry lobbyists claimed that developing countries had shirked their representatives for fossil fuel industries, including the CEO of Exxon, were uring developing countries to resist participation in a global climate agreement in return for U.S. investments.
Now industry opponents are focusing their energy on demonstrating that the treaty will hurt the U.S. economy. Such predictions, made repeatedly to block environmental progress, have proven false. When regulations to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that caused acid rain were passed several years ago, opponents said the cost to eliminate a ton of sulfur dioxide from the atmosphere would be $1500; the actual cost is only 6 percent of that $90 per ton of reduction.
A year ago, 2500 economists, including 8 Nobel laurentes, concluded that the economic benefits of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions far outweighed the total costs, and that the U.S. had several policy options that could slow climate change without harming American living standards and, in fact, improve U.S. productivity in the long run. New energy-efficient technologies and clean development provisions in the treaty are expected to create thousands of American jobs in the coming years.
Advocates of the treaty anticipate growing support for it in the coming months as the scientific evidence of climate change mounts and as the environmental necessity of the accord become clear.
Global Climate Treaty: Summary of Key Provisions
CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM