Monday, May 15, 2006

The Kyoto Protocol is dead, let it rest in peace

People coming out on the streets, celebrating the first anniversary of the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol were conspicuous by their absence this year. Admittedly, the few that did bother, had nothing to celebrate. A year earlier, the British Prime Minister, on the same week the Protocol came into force, went ahead and allowed British industry to pollute 20 million tonnes more than the limit approved by the European Union executive.

Blair has spent the past few years paying lip service to the protocol, so when it came to putting his money where his mouth is - he backed out a year later. The Protocol, in reality, is in tatters. None of the main players America, Australia, China, Brazil and India want to impose what they called 'binding restrictions' on their emissions of greenhouse gases.

If anything, Blair has come to the realisation that the economics of the Kyoto Protocol - just don't add up. On the left, openDemoracy's Casper Henderson seems to bemoan the fact that critics of the Protocol argue (rightfully) that it will 'hamper economic growth'. 'Hamper' is putting it politely, to say the least. If you replace the word hamper with hammer, you will have a more precise term to discribe the economic effects of the Protocol on developed, and developing economies.

What Henderson refers to as 'hamper', the American National Center For Policy Analysis (NCPA) calls it 'devastating damage'. The NCPA argues that countries that comply with the Protocol stand to lose some 5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It will increase unemployment by one million in Britain, and 1.8 million in Germany. America stand to lose some 5 million jobs if they complied to the Protocol.

The NCPA added that European nation would fare badly because they would be hit twice by, rising unemployment and a sharp rise in fuel bills, that would raise the price of heating, petrol, diesel and electricity by 10 percent initially - but, by 2010, the price of fuel will rise to some 20 percent. The damage this will do to European economies will no doubt effect us all. Spain, with it's heavy reliance on trucking, is set to be the biggest loser in Europe.

Environmentalists the world over have put the Kyoto Protocol on a morally high, political pedestal. But one by one, EU leaders are slowly waking up to the economic realities of the Protocol - it's only a matter of time before they all give up on this ecological-pantomime.

I want governments to spend more time, and money, encouraging rapid economic development, which would puts our society in a better position to adapt to climate change in the future. Why put the jobs of millions of people on the line? The sheer size of the effort and money needed, just to comply with the Protocol warrants serious interrogation, into what will be the outcome of all this? What will be the net effects of all this societal sacrifice? Even if all nations complied until 2012, the cumilative effects on the emission of greenhouse gases would still be how the NCPA put it - 'negligible'.

Kyoto is said to be the most 'groundbreaking global treaty' ever known. It's also said that the Protocols accords, amount to the 'world's most ambitious and complex environmental treaty' the world has ever seen. If you ask me, European leaders should get together so they could discuss how they should totally ditch Kyoto, and concentrate time, effort and (more importantly) money, on improving the lack of dynamism in their own economies. With China and India, out of the Kyoto 'straight-jacket', and most of the developing countries are exempt from the treaty, this will mean that Europe would have to shoulder a very serious economic burden, from now until 2012 - and that's just the start.

Read: Kyoto and the politics of climate change.
By Caspar Henderson

Reality and Climate Change Policy.
By the National Center For Policy Analysis.

Economic Effects of Kyoto on Europe.
By the National Center For Policy Analysis.

Quitting Kyoto.
By Philip Scott

Blair angers the green lobby by defying Brussels on emissions.
The Scotsman.

Picture: View of Earth from the Apollo 13 mission. From the Project Apollo Archive.


At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Thanks for the link, Courtney. I've linked back.

I'll comment on your post when I've had time to read and digest it!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Hi Steve,

I look forward to reading any of your criticisms you have about my post, and the Kyoto agreement.

Best Wishes.



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