- June 9 - At a critical negotiating session underway
for the rest of this week in Bonn, Germany, the Clinton/Gore Administration is staking out
gigantic loopholes abandoning the core principles of the global warming treaty signed last
December in Kyoto, Japan.
The Administration's intransigence during an interim negotiating session now underway in
Bonn, Germany threatens to derail the global warming treaty altogether by driving away
both our industrial trading partners and the developing nations which are needed to make
the deal work. The stealthy reversal stands in marked contrast to more than six years of
high-profile rhetoric, in which both Clinton and Gore stood in the media spotlight
promising to protect the climate:
As candidates in 1992, both Clinton and Gore hounded then-President George Bush for
avoiding legally binding cuts in US emissions of the pollution that causes global warming.
Upon election both Clinton and Gore pledged to cut US global warming pollution to 1990
levels by the year 2000 through improved efficiency and clean energy sources.
Last December, the Administration agreed with more than 160 other countries to a landmark
global warming treaty that would cut global warming pollution below 1990 levels. Joining
38 industrial competitors, the U.S. which by itself causes 22 percent of global
warming pollution promised a seven percent cut in its emissions by 2012.
During a last-minute trip to the Kyoto talks, Vice President Gore positioned himself
before the television cameras in the leadership spotlight: "All Americans can be
proud of the role our country played in securing this comprehensive agreement. The core
elements were those laid out in President Clinton's proposal, and in the final hours, our
skillful negotiating team...led the way in bridging gaps among nations," Gore said at
the end of the talks.
Now, working behind the scenes, the Clinton/Gore Administration has abandoned any pretense
of living up to its rhetoric about cutting global warming pollution.
In Kyoto, the White House insisted on a pollution trading scheme intended to allow
flexibility for countries to meet the pollution goal, and to reduce the cost of that
effort by finding the most efficient global warming gas cuts. Now in Bonn the
Administration negotiators are demanding a wide-open trading system, in which the U.S.
could meet its Kyoto obligations by purchasing shady pollution creditsmany of them
meaningless paper reductions that have already occurred thanks to the collapse of Russia's
This position is environmentally unsound and threatens the ongoing talks to implement the
Kyoto treaty. European leaders who plan global warming pollution cuts at home say the US
is unfairly avoiding its commitment, and call the scheme unacceptable. Meanwhile, the
developing countries whose involvement is needed for the treaty to work say the move shows
the US is not serious about doing its share.
The Administrations other top priority in Bonn is to ram through a key scientific
study bolstering a scientifically unsupportable system to account for Mother Natures
absorption of global warming pollution. If accepted, the Administration's position could
effectively slash the US treaty obligation overnight, while doing nothing to cut the
pollution that is heating the planet, and fueling increasingly extreme weather patters
around the globe.
8. HOW MUCH CAN BE TRADED?
20. Article 17 provides that trading is to be supplemental to domestic actions but does
not quantify that term or authorise the Conference of the Parties to quantify it.
21. International emissions trading will be more effective in achieving emissions
reduction at lowest cost if there are no restrictions on the quantity of AAUs able to be
transferred or acquired to contribute to compliance with a Partys assigned
amount. The ability to trade without quantitative restriction would encourage
ratification of the Protocol; encourage earlier emission reductions and minimise the
overall cost of achieving the collective Annex B environmental objective.
22. Internationally, mandated limits on the quantity available to be traded, by
substantially reducing the benefits available from trading, would increase the cost of
emission reductions; discourage ratification of the Protocol; and ultimately, in the long
term, reduce the quantity of reductions that can be achieved, thus delivering less
The above excerpt, from a memo that US negotiators circulated in Bonn, illustrates how the
wants to be able to trade away its commitment to reduce global warming pollution, with no
US-backed Trading System Ensures Failure to Solve Global Warming
The US-backed plan threatens not only the success of the global warming talks and the
European nations will not agree to a plan allowing the US to make no cuts. The British
Environment Minister has called the US plan "unacceptable." However, the US has
refused to compromise, and it appears that Clinton and Gore have charted a course intended
to stall the talks indefinitely.
How would global warming pollution be monitored, and who would enforce the treaty under
such a trading system? The Clinton-Gore Administration is pushing a voluntary reporting
system, based on the honesty of the big oil companies. At the same time, those companies
have recruited allies in the US Senate and the Clinton-Gore Administration to insist that
developing nations cut their global warming pollution, even though only a handful account
for significant global warming pollution. However, by pushing a plan in which the US the
world's largest global warming polluter would make no real cuts of its own, developing
nations are being handed the perfect excuse for refusing to make cuts themselves.
Missed Opportunities Suggest Clinton and Gore Were Never Serious
A series of missteps in recent months have suggested that the President and Vice President
were never that serious about cutting global warming pollution:
The President publicly promised (October 22, 1997, in a speech at the National Geographic
Society) to use electricity industry deregulation legislation to lower global warming
pollution. But the plan he delivered to Congress in March 1998 had no mandatory curbs on
power plant pollution. And the President's advisors admit the plan will cut pollution by
only about two percent of the amount needed to meet past pledges.
The President announced last month a "Partnership for Advancing Technology in
Housing" (PATH), to promote use of energy-efficient products in housing. However, the
program is optional for builders and is basically a reprocessed version of the President's
1993 Climate Change Action Plan. At the time the President said that plan would cut global
warming pollution, but US pollution instead rose 12 percent above 1990 levels.
The Administration still hasn't implemented decade-old energyefficiency standards for
household and commercial appliances, which by themselves would cut four percent of total
US global warming pollution and create new markets here and abroad for the resulting
devices, which would be cheaper to operate.
# # #
For more news from Bonn, join a conference call with expert observers there at 1 p.m.
Eastern time this Thursday, June 11. To join the call, contact Charlie Miller,
For copies of related documents including a new report on how the Administration may have
been influenced by huge campaign contributions to Democratic candidates by the fossil fuel
lobby please call David King at 202-887-8800.