January 30, 2007
On the issue of climate change in the last four years, I have spoken on the Senate floor more than a dozen times, held four hearings, two stakeholder meetings and many briefings within the Committee. I have looked at the science, the economics, and expected benefits of differing initiatives and proposals. And I have examined how well the world’s only large-scale carbon rationing program that has been implemented so far – the Kyoto Protocol – has fared in achieving its objectives. I have required my staff to research the underlying science and read hundreds of studies, as well as major assessments of the science. I think it is fair to say that no other federal legislator has devoted more time and energy to this issue.
There is no environmental issue that has become more politicized. Scientists have had their grant funding stripped, others have had their certifications threatened, and exaggerations have become commonplace. In fact, when a recent example of this was put on my web blog, there was so much concern that the 70,000 hits per hour crashed the Senate server.
Unfortunately, this politicizing of the science has become so commonplace so that even the UN body created to provide the scientific justification of climate action has fallen prey to it. Just over a year ago, I addressed the Senate on how the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had embraced highly questionable practices in its periodic assessments.
In fact, the problems identified were so substantial, it led Lord Nigel Lawson – former Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Member of the House of Lords Committee that reviewed the IPCC – to state:
“I believe the IPCC process is so flawed, and the institution, it has to be said, so closed to reason, that it would be far better to thank it for the work it has done, close it down, and transfer all future international collaboration on the issue of climate change…”
This is an astonishing statement, but when you look at the way the IPCC has conducted business in its past assessments, it is also perfectly reasonable. In an attempt to help the IPCC avoid some of the mistakes of the past, I have outlined dozens of constructive recommendations of the minimum changes needed for the IPCC to restore its credibility, and I hope everyone will take the time to read them.
Perhaps this politicizing of the science is why Claude Allegre – the former French Socialist Party Leader and member both the French and U.S. academies of science who once warned of catastrophic global warming – has now reversed himself and urges caution, stating, “The cause of this climate change is unknown. Is it man? Is it nature?”
Of course, it is not only the science that has become politicized. A recent report by Sir Nicholas Stern that gained worldwide attention, known as the Stern Report, touted how it was much less costly to take draconian action now in order to avoid global warming impacts later. It was hailed as final proof that we must put the world on an energy diet, leading British Prime Minister Tony Blair to declare that this report represents "the final word" on why the world must act now.
The only problem: within days, a growing chorus of economists – regardless of their views on climate change – began pointing out its serious fundamental flaws. In fact, Richard Tol of Hamburg University last week said that:
“If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis… likely I would I would give him an “F” for fail. There is a whole range of very basic economics mistakes that somebody who claims to be a Professor of Economics simply should not make.”
The fact is that the Kyoto Protocol and proposals on the drawing board will be extremely expensive. The Kyoto Protocol would cost the average household $2,700 per year. And it would accomplish virtually nothing. Even if the alarmists were right, the Kyoto Protocol would only reduce temperatures by 0.07 Celsius by the year 2050. Bills introduced in the Senate are no different. The Bingaman proposal would only reduce temperatures by 0.008 Celsius.
Of course, while the U.S. was on an energy diet, the rest of the world would be free to continually increase their emissions. Here are some simple facts:
· China does not plan to accept carbon caps, and will become the world’s largest CO2 emitter by 2009 – two years from now. It is building more than one new coal plant every three days. India and Brazil are not far behind. If they are not part of any effort, then efforts to curb emissions are doomed to failure.
· The Kyoto Protocol – which is the only program that has so far tested the cap and trade scheme – is broken. Japan will not meet its targets. Canada will not meet its targets. Of the EU-15, only Britain and Sweden will meet their targets. And even Britain is no success story – virtually all its emission reductions off of the 1990 baseline occurred before it signed the accord in 1997. Since 1998, its emissions have been rising.
· The United States, even though it does not have a federal carbon cap, has been more successful than most of the nations on the globe in reducing its emissions relative to GDP. But that isn’t enough for some, because our economy is growing. This has led one recent study to advocate that the best way for Americans to combat global warming is to reduce their living wage. In short, poorer is better.
· Not one piece of legislation introduced this year meets the test laid out in the Byrd Hagel and Bingaman resolutions that U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gases should: 1) not harm of the economy; and 2) include developing countries. Even the Bingaman bill introduced this year fails the test.
In regards to the 10 companies which announced their Climate Action Partnership last week, I would like to introduce into the record a commentary from the Wall Street Journal. This outlines the fact that each of the companies from Duke to GE, will individually profit from their plan. It is not an example of companies thinking of the quote “common good” as some of my colleagues have suggested, but more a case of climate profiteers.
While I look forward to a vigorous debate this Congress I also look forward to vigorously pointing out the lack of scientific consensus, the real economic impact, and the effects of unilateral disarmament of our economy if we enact mandatory carbon reductions in the U.S., while the rest of the world is failing to meet their goals.