Protocol is just lots of hot air

Bookmark and Share Food & Environment | Andrei Illarionov
The Australian 9th December, 2004

According to the Kyoto protocol proponents, Australia and the US are the rogue nations. But in the eyes of the absolute majority of the world, they are reasonable and smart.

After all, Australia and the US -- along with nine developed countries and 167 other nations -- are refusing to undertake legal obligations in restricting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The fact is the Kyoto protocol that will be a global treaty within months is based on fraudulent science. Assertions that global temperatures are higher today than any time in the past are completely false. Fluctuations in climate patterns have existed for millions of years -- for all earth history.

Global temperatures were higher in the Roman times when grapes were grown on British islands and Hannibal's elephants walked through the Alps into Italy. They were higher in the medieval period when the Vikings found and colonised the island that they have called Greenland and when Norwegians grew grain on the fields that are 300m in altitude higher than it is possible to do today.

Temperature variations in the course of the earth's history have been much greater than the increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the last century. In the past, the earth's climate was warmer, the global temperature rose faster, sea level was higher, floods were more severe, droughts lasted longer and hurricanes were more devastating than they were in the 20th century. Moreover, the best available temperature data from satellites show negligible temperature changes over the past several decades.

As pointed out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Richard Lindzen, perhaps the world's most respected atmospheric physicist, if global warming were to occur it would be accompanied by reduced rather than increased numbers of severe weather patterns.

Pseudo-scientific fabrications cost humankind a lot. Y2K cost consumers worldwide $700 billion. But once December 31, 2000, passed, the hysteria behind Y2K evaporated.

The nonsense of global warming triggered by the anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels hypothesis could cost the world economy much more.

The Kyoto treaty means a heavy price in terms of economic growth. Tentative early evidence of this can be seen by examining growth rates of those nations that have and have not enforced restrictions on their emissions.

Since 1997, the 17 pro-Kyoto developed nations (15 EU countries, Canada and Japan) have had slower economic growth rates than the 11 non-Kyoto nations (including Australia and the US) -- 1.9 per cent annually compared with 3.3 per cent. There is no way to cheat economic laws -- increase in wealth creation requires more energy.

CO2 is a natural result of the use of fossil fuels that still account for 80 per cent of energy consumed globally. Nuclear energy today is the only commercially viable alternative. But even if green activists and Euro-bureaucrats secretly desire a rapid expansion of nuclear energy, there are still objective limits to how fast hydrocarbons can be replaced. Therefore, limiting emissions means limiting energy consumption, limiting economic activity and limiting technological progress.

Even with Russia on board, the Kyoto treaty will do little to global CO2 emissions considering that 70 per cent of the world's CO2 is emitted by countries not subject to Kyoto restrictions. Moreover, this share is growing as China, India and other non-Kyoto developed and developing countries grow faster than pro-Kyoto ones. Countries around the world must choose what is more important for them -- stagnating, at best, living standards due to Kyoto sclerotic regulations or the rising well-being of billions of people without them.

The Kyoto protocol requires a supranational bureaucratic monster in charge of rationing emissions and, therefore, economic activities. The Kyoto-ist system of quota allocation, mandatory restrictions and harsh penalties will be a sort of international Gosplan, a system to rival the former Soviet Union's. This perhaps explains why it finds such ready support in some quarters. But that's why it should be a warning signal for those who value economic and political freedom.

Last May the Russian Academy of Sciences published its conclusion on Kyoto -- the protocol does not have scientific ground whatsoever. Nobody among Russian decision makers considers the Kyoto protocol either scientifically proven or economically beneficial for the country. The only reasons for Russia's decision to ratify were purely political. For 3 1/2 years, Russia was heavily lobbied by Europeans, Canadians, Japanese and international bureaucrats.

The message for Australians is clear: continued economic growth and rising living standards or make your future and the future of your children a victim of Kyoto-ism, one of the most aggressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism.