Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reinventing Kyoto

The international treaty for cutting greenhouse gases is a bust, and Bush's approach will do little to help.

The choice of 1990 as a base year simply rewards countries whose economies have shrunk since then and punishes growth. Russia, Eastern Europe, Germany and Britain are strong backers of Kyoto, and if one looks at the costs and benefits of the pact, it's no wonder. Today, these countries emit either less than they did in 1990 or just a little bit more. In Britain, that's because the privatization of the coal industry led to a decline in coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas; elsewhere, it's because the collapse of the Soviet Union was followed by the closing of filthy Soviet-era industrial plants, while economies in Russia and much of Eastern Europe stagnated.

The U.S. economy, meanwhile, has grown significantly since 1990, with a corresponding rise in power demand that, according to the Energy Information Administration, has caused carbon dioxide emissions to jump 20.4%. What a global carbon-trading scheme boils down to, then, is a massive wealth transfer from the U.S. to Russia. U.S. polluters would pay billions of dollars to buy carbon credits from other countries — mostly Russia, because it would have the most to sell. Why should we inject huge sums into a country with a rotten human rights record, rampant corruption and opposing geopolitical views?

From the Los Angeles Times