What Future For Kyoto

Posted on Tue 05/11/2010 by


Twenty seven months ago, I started a series on the implications of The Kyoto Protocol.

What I hoped to do was to explain that if you believed in (Man Made) Global Warming, and hoped that this Protocol would provide the answer, then your belief in that had consequences.

Right from that first post, I stated my belief in Global Warming, which is a fact. However, what I do not believe is that the emissions of Carbon Dioxide are causing that Global Warming.

The name was then subtly changed to Climate Change, and the bandwagon just kept rolling along.

The Kyoto Protocol was looked upon as the saviour in all this, and I then proceeded to explain that it was problematic that this Protocol could ever achieve anything.

Copenhagen was eagerly looked forward to with the view to finding a replacement for Kyoto. We all watched as those talks became mired, and then wound up without a replacement, and only coming out with a lame view of what needed to be done, and nothing concrete settled upon, other than to keep talking about it.

Now, in the last week, the UN’s top Climate Change official, Yvo de Boer has said that the Protocol is under threat of collapse.

So then, why has the Kyoto Protocol thrown up such difficulties, and why has it, of itself, now become the crucial sticking point in any attempt to find a viable replacement for it?

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1997. It was a broad document that required many things.

Foremost among them was a reduction in the emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is one of the Greenhouse Gases, the largest of which is water vapour, which exists at a level 51 times greater than for CO2. Kyoto called for a Worldwide reduction in the emissions of CO2 to a level 5% less than what was being emitted in 1990, oh, except for the U.S. which was asked for a 7% reduction on those 1990 levels.

Since that time 192 Countries have signed the Protocol, which asks for 2 separate signatures, the first signature being one that agrees with the intent, and the second signature, of infinitely greater importance, ratifying that your Country agrees to be bound by what the Protocol asks for. Of those 192 Countries, the only major Country not to give that vital second signature to this date is the U.S. This lies directly at the feet of the Clinton Administration (with AL Gore as his VP at the time) who specifically refused to even submit the Protocol to Congress. In 2001, the Bush Administration then followed that Clinton Administration in specifically rejecting it for a second time, and as much as the current Obama Administration disagreed with the former Bush Administration, it too has failed to offer that vital second signature.

Those 192 Countries were then split into 2 separate areas, Annex 1 Countries and Developing Countries. 40 Countries were listed in Annex 1, those Countries already highly developed. The remaining 152 Countries were listed as Developing Countries. From Annex 1, a further list of 23 Countries was then culled and these Countries are listed as Annex 2 Countries.

The ideals of the Protocol were probably seen at the time as being of good intent, and the rush to add both signatures was uniform, as Countries signed up.

All this was in 1997.

This was at a time when Global Warming barely even raised a thought in the average person’s rationale of daily things they thought about. It also barely even rated the tiniest mention in any media outlets at the time, other than those sectors directly related to environmental issues, and you would have been extremely hard pressed to find any mention across any media outlets. Politicians also barely even considered it, and even though the Protocol was signed, it was considered more of ‘the right thing to be seen to be doing’.

In the now 13 years since it was introduced, Global Warming/Climate Change slowly got into the mainstream, and in the last 2 to 3 years especially, it has exploded exponentially into a major current buzzword. This would have a lot to do with politics, as one side used it as a bludgeoning stick in a major way to differentiate them from the other side, eg They are environmental vandals, and we are pure as the driven snow, and only we can save you from what is a dire future. From that political side of things, friends in the media then perceived it as a way of getting their political allies into power, so the media then latched onto everything they could. In nearly every case, they have exaggerated the one side they (now) support, and then crucified anybody who disagreed with that.

Kyoto was latched upon as the thing that would save us all, so that is what they all ran with until, now, almost everybody is aware of  the Kyoto Protocol, even if they have no idea at all as to what it is, what it called for, and what the long term implications of a blind adherence to it meant.

However, what those people, (the politicians, the media empires, and the general populace) are totally and blissfully unaware of are the consequences of what Kyoto asks for, what it means, and the implications of what will happen if it is blindly implemented.

So, just what is it then that makes Kyoto the current sticking point in trying to find a replacement?

It all stems back to those Annex 1 Countries, and the list of Countries classified as Developing.

In a small addition of less than half a line added to the end of those 23 Annex 2 Countries culled from Annex 1, the Protocol says ….. These Countries will pay all the costs for Developing Countries.

Then, for those Developing Countries, another small half line which says ….. Need to do nothing more than report their emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding document, and in fact, the only legally binding document of a major nature in existence.

Luckily (it now eventuates) those Annex 1 Countries now look on with absolute relief at the ‘Sunset Clause’ in Kyoto. The Protocol was designed to stay in force only until 2012. While this ‘phew’ moment exists for those 23 already developed Countries, the remaining 152 Countries view this approaching date with trepidation, because previously, all they had to do was to go on blissfully as they always had, and all they needed to do was to report their emissions, and on top of that, those Annex 2 Countries had to pay ALL their costs with respect to any cutbacks they need to make, and for all the technology to implement it, along with all the costs for technology, and construction of non emitting power plants. Those still developing Countries could still move forward with moving towards an industrialised state that we in the Western World already have, and have had for almost a Century now.

However, that ‘phew’ moment for those 23 Countries is that sunset clause of 2012, meaning there is a way out for them of having to part with what would amount to Trillions of Dollars.

That of itself gives an insight into why Hillary Clinton in one of her speeches at this Copenhagen Conference offered to set up a fund and contribute Billions of dollars to it. What’s Billions, when the ramifications of Kyoto would cost Trillions.

Can you now see why those developing Countries virtually laughed off that offer of Billions of Dollars.

Can you see why that vast number of developing Countries desperately refused to sign up to anything new, when an existing legal document meant that all they had to do was nothing more than report their emissions.

Can you see why those developing countries argued about how anything new would hamper their progress to a state of development we already have.

Can you see now why those major already developed Countries desperately wanted to find a way out of shelling out fortunes.

In 1997, Kyoto was an ideal, and really, nothing more than that. Now, 13 years later, the full importance of what it actually does mean has been rammed home.

In 1997, there was probably the thought that some new type of power plant (as if by magic) would show itself in the near future, and that this would enable them to close down those huge numbers of coal fired power plants, which contribute 30 to 36% of all CO2 emissions. Now, 13 years later, the only form of plant being proposed is from renewable sources, mainly wind and solar. These plants are proven, and proven inconclusively that they cannot, and never will be able to replace those coal fired power plants. Small coal fired plants are closing down, mainly because their life time has finished, and it is not economical to keep them running. Virtually none of the large coal fired plants has closed, and in fact, when the power they produce is needed the most, they are actually being asked to deliver more power.

Governments so keen to sign up to Kyoto for gross political benefit, are now having their chickens come home to roost. They have no viable replacement.

On top of that, those developing Countries are building new large coal fired plants to bring electrical power to their vast populaces that have NO electrical power at all. In fact, both China and India are constructing large coal fired power plants like there is no tomorrow. In fact one new large plant is coming on line in both China and in India every 7 to 10 days.

Any new replacement for Kyoto will stop that stone cold dead. Those vast hundreds of millions, and even billions of people without electrical power will remain in what we might think of as the stone age, because we take electrical power as a staple of everyday life in all we do.

Can you also see, that because of that one short half line….. ‘these Countries to pay all the costs of developing Countries’….. then that now puts the introduction of any Emissions Trading Scheme into clear as glass perspective, no matter what environmentally green name they give it. The UN will require those already developed Countries to contribute those vast sums of money to developing Countries.

Can you see now why the Countries pushing the hardest at Copenhagen were those already developed Countries.

They know what Kyoto means, and by hook or by crook, they will do everything they possibly can to be rid of it, now they finally know what it really means. They will give it a nice name to make it sound like they are doing something for the good of the Planet, but all they want is to save those huge amounts of money that Kyoto calls for them to contribute.

This will be a fight on both sides that will be bitter and hard.

I can see right now as Lawyers gear up for the money fest to beat all money fests.

Governments want to introduce their ETS legislation, but now they want to keep hold of all that lovely money for themselves, and give away the tiniest part.

In so doing, what they are in effect doing is throwing the Third World developing Countries back under the same bus they have been trying to get out from under for so long.

Kyoto was flawed from the start. The only difference now is that those implications are just starting to sink in.

Let’s look at the grand ideal that was called for, that 5% reduction in CO2 emissions from the 1990 levels.

Not only has no major Country gotten even close to that reduction level, but in fact virtually every Country has increased their levels of emissions on that level at 1997, and most Countries have increased them by so much that those 5% lower than 1990 levels will NEVER be realised. Figures around 50 to 75% increase on the 1997 levels are commonplace. In fact, instead of even attempting to reach those reductions, Countries are now actively seeking to move the goalposts. Grandiose figures are being bandied about regarding reductions on current levels that sound so good, and in fact are considerably higher than what already existed when Kyoto came into force. For 13 years now, some Countries have been spending fortunes to introduce renewable energy power plants, and the levels of their CO2 emissions are still rising. That is because those renewable plants just cannot deliver power on the same scale as what is being delivered already by coal fired power plants, and in nearly every case, not one large scale coal fired plant has closed where huge numbers of renewable plants are in service. Governments know, and let me tell you, they know beyond any shadow of doubt that they just cannot close down those coal fired power plants. For any Government to do that, it would tantamount to political suicide. Instead, they make grandiose claims about actually doing something about the situation, but all that comes out is spin.

The most worrying thing of all was always the money thing, so while they tinkered at the edges of CO2 reductions, the concentration was on that one tiny half a line of text, proving once and for all that this had nothing whatsoever to do with the Environment. It was, is now, and always will be just all about the money.

I want to see those same politicians who touted this for so long now try to explain the truth to a public they have fed with nothing but spin.

Watch this space. This will get extremely ugly.