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U.S. Continues Opposition to Kyoto Environmental Treaty 1580

Posted by michael
from the give-a-hoot-don't-pollute dept.
fenris_23 writes "The AP is reporting that President Bush has reiterated his opposition to the Kyoto Treaty despite President Putin's acceptance of the treaty and recent scientific evidence directly linking greenhouse emissions to arctic warming. 'President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost,' said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality."
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U.S. Continues Opposition to Kyoto Environmental Treaty

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  • by hta (7593) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748169) Homepage Journal
    in the dike-building industry based on sea-level change, for instance......
  • American Jobs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thewiz (24994) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748176)
    'President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost,' said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

    If that's the case, why does the President support off-shoring American jobs? Sounds like he's speak out of both ends of his a$$ to me.
  • Jobs?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748182)
    "President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job"

    He doesn't need any treaties for that!
  • Financial Benefits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748183) Homepage
    Are there reports done on the financial benefits (eg in medical bills) of Kyoto Treaty?

    And why must reducing gas emission equate to job loss? Couldn't companies be more efficient instead?

    In IT outsourcing, which costs a lot of jobs to foreigner countries, there are suggestions [] that with the increased exports to other countries, outsourcing probably isn't so bad after all.

    Play iCLOD Virtual City Explorer [] and win Half-Life 2
    • by meburke (736645) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:42PM (#10748841)
      First off, in a competitive world, the pinciple of comparative advantage would suggest that goods and services be produced where they can be produced most economically. By subscribing to the Kyoto treaty, we are burdening ourselves with higher costs that don't leead to higher productivity. This reduces the USA overall prosperity, and tips the comparative advantage of many of our goods and services toward countries where they don't have to watch their output as strongly.

      Second, the USA has been the world's largest consumer as well as the largest producer, but this is changing. Probably within the next 30 - 50 years, the USA will only consume about 22% of the world's goods and services. This is a result of the growing prosperity of the other nations in the world, especially the EU (which has mostly recovered from WWII). This means that the USA will not automatically be the highest bidder for the worlds resources, and the cost of production will climb dramatically when there are 50 nations bidding for, say, massive amounts of oil, instead of only 12. Multiply this effect by thinking in terms of lumber, minerals, concrete, etc and you can see that we will be replacing many of our most resource-hungry industrial practices with more efficient (and presumeably safer, less polluting) practices as a matter of business evolution. We won't be able to sustain ourselves if we don't, and we won't be able to do it if we squander our capital at this time by allocating it to non-productive goals that are mostly unobtainable at this time.

      Third, comparing national emissions output between countries is not a valid measurement, and neither is a per-capita emissions level comparison. Basically, what is needed is some type of emissions-per-productive-unit measurement. I suppose it's theoretically possible for a couple hundred blacksmiths to produce a car without using the energy and emitting the pollution of a USA automotive plant, but is it economically feasible? Will it add the same value to the economy and provide the same level of utility?

      Fourth, (and this is a hugely debatable point) we are working toward a world-wide crisis. The Club of Rome published a book called, "Limits to Growth" that was updated 20 years later as, "Beyond the Limits". Using a method called System Dynamics (pioneered by Jay Forrester) researchers illustrated the interaction of essential resources and uses and have shown that we are eventually going to have to change our ways or die out. The first book's gloomiest scenario predicted a collapse sometime in the early 90's, and when it didn't come the whole prediction was pooh-poohed as just another doomsday book. Well, the system was more flexible than we thought, and we had a couple of reallocations of resources and technology and so we had a reprieve. But the system is still in place, and in the not-too-distant future we will have to contend with shortages of basics like clean water and decent food. The solution to fending off environmental disaster probably lies in economic incentives, not social regulation.

      A number of times I've come across the question of Easter Island: Who cut down the last tree? Didn't they see that deforesting their island would ruin their lives? My guess is that society in general lives like a bunch of slowly boiling frogs. Unless the heat gets turned up significantly, we are willing to adapt to the higher temperature until we're cooked. Pollution is affecting our lives today, but it's happening so slowly that we don't take massive action to remedy the situation. IMO, the Kyoto treaty is an attempt to regulate people by force, rather than improve the situation with feedback. I'd be more impressed with an "Osaka treaty". Turn the air in Osaka as clean as the air in Kyoto, and I'll help everyone adopt the practices that work.

  • by Ledora (611009) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:27PM (#10748184)
    Think of all the fishing jobs this will create when we have that much more water!
  • by aslagle (441969) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:28PM (#10748189)
    Because it won't pass Congress. You know, that body that has to ratify any treaty? Clinton didn't sign it either, for the same reason. Why sign something you know won't be ratified?
    • by Tim C (15259) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:37PM (#10748279)
      Why sign something you know won't be ratified?

      To publicly lend it your support. To persuade people and businesses to take steps on their own, even if it won't be legislated for. To show everyone that no matter what the rest of the government thinks, *you* consider it important.

      I could go on, but you get the idea; doomed to failure or not, sometimes it's worth standing up to be counted. That's if you believe in it, of course. If not, then no, of course you wouldn't sign.
  • zerg (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:28PM (#10748190) Homepage
    President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job
    o_O Wait, why did he run for election then?
  • Jobs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ReverendHoss (677044) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:30PM (#10748211)
    Out of curiousity, how many jobs would be created in research, production and implementation of green technologies?

    If you're going to defend outsourcing by pointing to the number of jobs created by the cheaper goods, shouldn't you also point out the green-inspired jobs, and the savings in health care from cleaner air?
    • Re:Jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by reverse flow reactor (316530) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:04PM (#10748515)
      Bush is thinking like a short-term manager, not a long-term engineer. For example, what are the largest costs to a chemical plant? Well, the big three major costs to a chemical plant are often:

      1) energy

      2) raw materials

      3) wages/insurance.

      They are often in that order. How do you make you chemical plant more efficient and more cost-effective? Focus on reducing your major costs.

      Since the biggest cost to a chemical plant is energy, how do you reduce you energy usage? Design more efficient processes, reuse energy - instead of dumping heat into the atmosphere, reuse it as utility steam (and reduce your energy costs). Process integration (using the byproducts of one process to fuel another instead of just dumping it) requires some smarts, some planning, but can make your industry more efficient, more cost-effective and more profitable. Did I mention that reducing energy costs is not only profitable, but environmentally friendly???!?

      Yes, you heard me right - reducing energy costs is not only good for the bank account, but good for Mother Nature too? And it makes the industry more competitive?

      What that means is that American industries will not be nearly as competitive or profitable as Kyoto countries. It will take a few years for the Kyoto countries to become more efficient, but when they are, America will lose big time in the global economy due to their lower efficiency.

  • Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cmason32 (636063) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:30PM (#10748212)
    President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job ... unless it's tax breaks for corporations that move jobs overseas.
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:32PM (#10748237) Homepage
    Let me just understand...

    We're okay exporting jobs in the name of "global competitiveness", but we're not okay getting rid of jobs in the name of protecting the environment?

  • by sexysciencegirl (829001) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:32PM (#10748239) Homepage
    Job growth/loss graph under different presidents []
    Missing jobs under Bush administration []
    - job loss=OK
    - alienating the world=OK
    - job loss to undo some alienation of the world=not OK
    Lovely logic.
  • by Blair16 (683764) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:33PM (#10748242)
    "President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job"

    By that he means his.
  • To review... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bullitB (447519) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:38PM (#10748292)
    This entire US/Kyoto debacle started in 1998 when Al Gore decided to sign the treaty even after the entire US Senate voted in 1997 (well, okay, it passed 95 to 0) to say they wouldn't sign any climate protocol without certain details changed. Knowing this, the Clinton administration didn't even submit the treaty for ratification.

    Knowing all this, it is unreasonable to expect any administration to again resubmit the treaty for ratification, especially when US green gas emissions have gone up a bit since 1998. For what it's worth, John Kerry not only voted in favor of the 1997 resolution, but also made it clear he would not push for Kyoto ratification were he to be elected. (His campaign did criticize the Bush administration's decision to not resubmit the treaty for ratification in 2001-2004, however)
  • FUD ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Etyenne (4915) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:41PM (#10748315)
    President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job, let alone the nearly 5 million jobs Kyoto would have cost,' said James Connaughton

    How does Kyoto would make the US lose 5 millions jobs ? I would tend to believe the opposite : increased energy efficiency would make American industries more competitive and help fix the trade deficit.

    But who am I to oppose the American people God-given right to burn fossile fuel like there is no tomorrow ?

  • by erik_norgaard (692400) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @04:54PM (#10748433) Homepage
    US has about 4% of the world population, yet consumes more than 25% of world energy production according to this statistics html []

    Just to compare, EU represents about 6% of the world population, and consumes 16% of the worlds energy, hence the average european consumes only 40% of the energy resources of the average american. China, about 25% of the world population consumes 10% of the energy. (see [])

    Comparing the EU and US economies, they are about equal size. This means european energy to money conversion is about 40% more effective than US. Taking into account the larger population of Europe the production per capita is about 65% of US, but the average efficiency per capita (that is the conversion of energy to money per capita) is some 60% better (consuming 40 units of the energy to produce 65 units of value).

    In other words, US can do a lot to improve efficiency! If US were as efficient as EU, US would maintain BNP and comply with Kyoto.

    So what's the problem? Who has the interest of keeping US production inefficient?
  • Pofits or Jobs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iopha (626985) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#10748640) Homepage
    "It is perhaps worth mentioning that the word 'profits' has largely disapeared from respectable discourse. In contemporary Newspeak, the proper word is to be pronounced 'jobs'."

    -Noam Chomsky: Perspectives on Power

    Don't know if quoting Chomsky means I'll get modded down or what, but I think President Bush's decision makes sense after we do the translation suggested by Chomsky. Otherwise we are tangled in a morass of contradiction, as other posters have pointed out. Everything falls into place if we think about profits instead.
  • by isa-kuruption (317695) <kuruption&kuruption,net> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:20PM (#10748647) Homepage
    However, in 1997, 94 U.S. senators voted for and signed Senate Resolution 98 which says that the U.S. should not ratify the Kyoto Protocol if: 1) it did not impose restrictions on developing countries, and 2) it would "would result in serious harm to the economy.

    John Freakin Kerry was also one of the senators to also sign this resolution.
  • Conservatism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by celeritas_2 (750289) <> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:38PM (#10748801)
    This enviromentalism is one area where the conservative idea just can't work. If you're wrong about it and say, the icecaps melt, or there are 20 hurricanes a year, it's already too late to fix things. The truth is that these enviromental disasters are a natural part of the system, but with carbon emissions, we're changing the system in one way or the other without complete understanding. I'd rather pay a little more on gas and have a lesser economic growth than even risk such things.
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @05:48PM (#10748890)
    According to the US Department of Energy, the USA uses 40% of the annual world output of oil, 23% of the natural gas, and almost 23% of the coal.

    And the US has only 4.6% of the world's population.

    Kyoto or not, its time to buy smaller cars less often, take public transit, and carefully consider the effects of overconsumption. In the past three years, I've traded my SUV in on a Toyota Echo, taken the bus/train to work nearly every day, and started to buy gently used stuff on eBay.

    It was actually pretty easy - And I was able to pack an extra $18,000 into the bank. I suppose I'm my own little "Mini Kyoto."

    Of course, my behaviour is bad news for corporations like GM and many manufacturers - but its better for me.

  • by graffix_jones (444726) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @06:00PM (#10748986)
    The main thing to understand behind the Kyoto agreement is the fact that it institutes a system of Tradeable Emissions Rights (TERs). TERs are already being used in the U.S. among coal-fired power plants with great success in curbing emissions. Basically, a TER is a publicly traded permit that allows 1 ton of pollution emission per permit purchased. Each power plant is granted a certain number of emissions permits up to the amount that needs to be abated (by statute), and the company must then purchase additional rights to pollute above that amount.

    This is a great market because it makes the industry self-policing. Those powerplants that can economically abate emissions are free to sell excess TERs to companies that are unable to do so, making it a win-win situation for all parties. Every year the amount of pollution abated increases, which encourages companies to invest in cleanup technology, or decommission powerplants that simply can't meet the requirements economically (which are replaced with new plants with better technology).

    Now apply this on a global scale, and you have Kyoto. The reason Russia is so gung-ho about signing onto this treaty is because they stand to make billions of dollars on the deal. "Why" may you ask? Because the baseline was set at 10% below 1990 pollution levels (IIRC). Anybody that knows anything about Russia's economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union knows that they're running at about 30-40% of their industrial output as they were during the Communist heyday... in other words, they have a shitload of permits to sell... and guess who their #1 customer will be? The U.S., of course.

    This is why the U.S. is so apprehensive about the treaty... we're already doing what we can within our country's own TER system to combat pollution, so there's not much room left for maneuvering on a global scale (we've already hit the point of economical abatement). So, that's the primary reason why the U.S. won't sign on, and why it's been a bipartisan issue.

    We stand to lose quite a bit of GDP if we have to implement the Kyoto agreement, though with the price of oil forever-escalating this could finally spur development in the Hydrogen/Solar area.

    Also, to those protesting the unfairness of Kyoto, keep in mind that in every country's industrial development, there's a point in time where they emit huge amounts of pollution... attempting to deny those developing countries economical fossil-fuel sources is a bit hypocritical, even though on a global scale it make sense. That is why Kyoto makes exception for these countries... they're allowed to pollute at their current levels for 10-20 years, upon which time they will also be subject to the provisions outlined in the Kyoto treaty. The hope is that by that time technology will have evolved enough that it will be economically feasible for these developing countries to afford, which will lead to implementation.

    Any questions? ;)
  • by InsaneGeek (175763) <slashdot@i[ ] ['nsa' in gap]> on Sunday November 07, 2004 @08:46PM (#10750305) Homepage

    Not a single senator 99-0 signed up for Kyoto as it stands. Bush and Kerry both have said they would not sign it as it stood, both said they would sign it if changes were made.

    The US is decreasing it's per-capita emissions at a faster rate than Canada has since signing the treaty.

    So if the entire government refused to move forward with it and the US is reducing it faster than nations who signed up for it... what good would it be?
  • by RayBender (525745) on Sunday November 07, 2004 @10:31PM (#10751007) Homepage
    It's not just about the Kyoto treaty - the treaty itself would have a rather limited impact, though would be a good first step. The reason the rest of the world (and half of the U.S. voters) dislike the Bush attitude is that it is basically an attitude of "Me first. Screw the rest of the world."

    Bush seems to think that a) there are no global-scale problems, b) even if there were, they should not be solved through collective action and c) the U.S. has a divine right to screw the rest of the world, take their resources, install oppressive regimes, etc etc.

    The rest of the world doesn't like getting screwed. And half of the U.S. voters are smart enough and civilised enough to realize that sometimes co-operation is the better way. But it doesn't matter - the world isn't a democracy, and as we know, a few idiots in the "heartland" have taken all the world along for a demonstration of what happens when you let Enron-style capitalism and religious fundamentalism run things.

    The good news is that now we'll all find out who is right. Are those who warn of the dire consequences of unilateralism, pre-emptive war, environmental destruction etc etc. just being whiny, or not? Maybe global warming really is just a conspiracy among scientists who want attention and funding. Maybe freedom and U.S.-style free markets will bloom in Iraq, and be so wonderful that the Palestinians will realize that they should strop trying to get back their land and go get a job for McDonalds. Maybe the "expert" opinions of the NAS, or the U.N., or our oldest allies, are just plain wrong, and reality will yield to faith.

    I'm rather curious, actually. It's not every day that you get a chance to see your beliefs put to the test. Besides, it'll be fun - kinda like watching NASCAR; it's more fun when you think there will be a wreck.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen