Kyoto – A Perspective (Part 47)

Posted on Thu 07/03/2008 by



The Climate Change supporters are always apt to quote statistics at you to support their argument, and when taken in isolation, those statistics seem to be quite compelling indeed. However, what is needed is context, and dare I say it, perspective.
They will quote things like per capita head, which would have to be the most spurious argument of them all. It’s one that is used here in Australia, and those people say that per capita head, we here in Australia are the largest emitters of CO2 on the Planet, and that you in the US are the second largest emitters. The implication in that is that we have the subliminal intent to deliberately harm the environment. In actuality, it is because we have ready access to what we consider a staple of life, electricity. That per capita head argument is also spurious when in the same breath for Australia, we are the lowest emitter on the Planet over the area of our Country, and here you need to realise that Australia is the same size in area as mainland USA, even though the population of that same sized area of the US is 15 times larger than for Australia. In Australia we produce a total of 52,000 MW of electricity, while in the US you produce a maximum of just over a million MW which is 20 times that for Australia, so does that make the US bigger per capita users than Australia, by area, by population or by power generation.

See the point.

Numbers can be used to mean whatever you want them to mean.
Australia may be the largest per capita head emitter on the Planet, but in total Australia’s emissions amount to just 1.5% of the total Planetary emissions, and if we were the average emitters that percentage would only shrink to 1.3%, so the per capita argument is spurious, not only for Australia, but for the US as well.
Some time during the last month, China became the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the Planet, surpassing the US. Yet Australia and the US still emit six times as much on a per capita basis.
Does the environment recognise per capita levels or actual levels.

I know that this is going to sound like a China bashing exercise, and this is most definitely not intended to be that. However, I do want to include China, and to a lesser extent India so that context and perspective can be brought into the argument.

Why I wanted to include China relates right back to the title of the Series, that being the Kyoto Protocol.
China, India, and a large swathe of other Countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but the United Nations under that sub group, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) says that even though the Protocol relates to 181 Countries who have signed it, and then gone on to ratify it, more than 80 of them are not subject in any way to commitment, other than to report their emissions. China and India are the two largest in that basket of exempted ‘Developing Countries’ and therein lies the sting in the tail.

The US is the one Country holding out on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol which was what started this whole series and what I mentioned way back in Part 1. Before you think of this as a political thing, and start blaming it on President Bush, and how this is basically a thing that the Republicans oppose because Al Gore as a Democrat has publically campaigned for, then what I want you do is to keep the following in mind.

In July of 1997, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95-0 vote a Resolution stating that the Senate of the United States should not sign any protocol that didn’t include binding targets and timetables for developing AS WELL AS industrialized nations or if signing that protocol would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States. The Protocol requires two separate actions, each requiring a signature, one to agree with the intent and the second, and most important, that of signing the Protocol as ratifying it, this second signature binding the signing Country to agree to the requirements, and then to implement them. In November of 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed that first part of the protocol. (He just signed it, as agreeing in principle to what the intent was, and this is entirely different to actually ratifying it, which is what he, Vice President Al Gore did not sign.) Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

The main word here and part of the highlighted text is that for developing countries. Also of major import when correlating this with Al Gore’s opus, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, is the fact that when given the opportunity to sign as ratifying the Protocol and then to go on and implement it, he did not sign, obviously because that was at the direction of the Government and the President, but it surely puts into question his later activities with regard to his book, his lectures, and his movie which have earned him such stunningly impressive accolades. Some might actually think of that as being a little hypocritical, when context is shown when comparing those two actions.

So, even though the vast majority of the Countries of the World have ratified it, don’t think of it as an accusing finger pointed at you as the US, and here is why.


The Kyoto Protocol was agreed upon and will stay in place until the next main agreement will be put in place in the form of a new resolution, and this will be in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.  As part of discussions, the UNFCCC travel the World at regular intervals to hold their Conference of Parties (COP) Since the UNFCCC was set up, there have been 13 of these COP meetings, around once every year. The most recent one was held in Bali in Indionesia in December of 2007. It was at this Bali meeting that the new Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in tow with his Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett, (yes that same guy, the lead singer of that famed Australian rock band Midnight Oil, now established in a career in politics) signed off on Kyoto, with a flourish and huge publicity, ratifying the Protocol on behalf of Australia, which was a promise he made in the lead up to the recent election as part of his platform of promises. Australia had resisted doing this previously for the same reasons as the US did not sign. UNFCCC will meet in December of this year 2008 at Poznan in Poland, and then in December 2009 in Copenhagen Denmark, to discuss, in their words, an ambitious global climate agreement for the period after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

In the last post I put out the faint hope that every single body and organisation in the US started to pull together. Everybody came on side, even the altruistic coal mining Companies, who decided out of the goodness of their hearts to take that 43 Billion Dollar hit. So, and let’s do this immediately shall we. Let’s comply wholly with the Kyoto protocol and cut back on CO2 emissions to a level 5% less than 1990, keeping in mind that even this burns less coal than was actually burned during 1990, and in fact is almost back to 1980 levels. To achieve that we need to cut back on one third of all coal fired power production. What this equates to is around 50 large 2000MW coal fired power plants taken out of commission. I’ve been conservative here because it really should include one third of those smaller coal fired plants as well, but I always like to look at things a little conservatively.
Remember, what we are doing is just conjecture, taking 50 huge plants out and taking them out immediately without replacing them. I will leave aside the resultant absolute chaos that will ensue as more than one seventh of the whole US goes without electricity, across every sector, Industrial, Commercial and Residential. All I’m doing is the hypothetical exercise.

China are not subject to the Protocol other than to report their emissions, so they can just do whatever they want. Remember I mentioned that sometimes during the last month China became the highest (actual) emitter on the Planet. This is based upon the fact that they are bringing their people not into the 21st Century, but the 20th Century, and trying to bring electrical power to a greater percentage of their people, considering only a small fraction of them already have access to constant reliable electricity. They are currently bringing on line one large 2000MW coal fired power plant each and every week, and will be doing so for at least the next 8 to 10 years.

So, back to the hypothetical. The US are forced by the Kyoto Protocol to shut down 50 of their coal fired plants. China alone will have replaced those 50 plants within one year, and by the time the next round of the UNFCCC meets in 2012 to adopt the new Protocol, China will have brought on line 200 more of these power plants, and that’s just the coal fired power plants. So anything that we do in those First World Countries will not only be totally cancelled out just by China alone, it will be thoroughly smashed. If you were to take India, and those other ‘developing countries’ into account as well, then you’re looking at surpassing the US cutback in a period of (probably) less than six months.
Cutting back in the US will save X amount of CO2 being released into the environment. However eight times that amount of greenhouse gas will actually be released into the environment before any new agreement will be implemented in 2012, (and that will be just from China alone, so there’s every chance those emissions will be in the vicinity of sixteen times as much) because those Countries not subject to the current Protocol are building coal fired plants like there’s no tomorrow.

If we are to believe the green climate change doomsayers, then at this rate, there will be no tomorrow.
If I was in charge in China, I would be doing the same as what is happening right now.
Build these plants like there IS no tomorrow, and in 2012, it will be a fait accompli.

I want every single one of you right now, right this very minute to look into your heart of hearts.
In 2012 when the UNFCCC holds its next major Conference Of Parties to adopt the next protocol, one that hopefully will include China, then just what do you think China will say when the UN asks them to shut down THEIR coal fired power plants in order to save the environment.

The roar in response from all you people reading this will be pretty deafening.
Almost as loud as the silence will be from China.

Now even you hardest of hearted environmentalists must see the futility in this.
Whatever we do will be ruled out in its entirety in less than six months.
Now do you see why the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Ask your Presidential candidates where they stand on this point.