, 2000

Latest news from America's Progressive Community

Search | Sign Up | Privacy
  NewsCenter > NewsWire > For Immediate Release     


JUNE 9, 1998
10:00 AM
CONTACT:   National Environmental Trust
David King at 202-887-8800
Clinton/Gore Administration Retreats From Kyoto Global Warming Treaty Promises In Bonn Talks
Seeks To Cut Global Warming Pollution Abroad, But Not Here
BONN - 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 heavy industry.

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 Administration’s other top priority in Bonn is to ram through a key scientific study bolstering a scientifically unsupportable system to account for Mother Nature’s 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.


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 Party’s ‘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 environmental benefit.

The above excerpt, from a memo that US negotiators circulated in Bonn, illustrates how the US
wants to be able to trade away its commitment to reduce global warming pollution, with no limits.

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 treaty.
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, 202-822-5200.

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.


Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.

The press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community. If you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information, please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)

Making News?
E-mail us your news release!

Tell Us What You Think:

Copyrighted 1997-2000 All Rights Reserved. Common Dreams.