Moving Beyond Kyoto:
A Responsible Approach to Climate Change

US Senator Chuck Hagel

7 September 2000

It is an honor to be here, at an institution named for an American whose name is synonymous with competent, trusted American leadership ... James Baker. I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss changes in the earth's climate here at the Baker Institute. This is an issue that is very important to the future of our nation.

Unfortunately, over the last decade we have frequently heard discussion and debate about climate change from the refrain of doomsday prophecies and catastrophic consequences if we do not halt global warming.

That was the refrain which led to the Rio Summit in 1992 that set voluntary agreements by the world's nations to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions. When that did not abate the cries of impending disaster, the United Nations and global environmental organizations determined that greenhouse gas reductions should be enforced by legally binding mandates. The result was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

This November, a week after our elections, the nations of the world will again meet, this time to work out the details for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Deep and serious problems have existed since the flawed treaty was first negotiated---chief among them are the lack of participation by developing nations and the disastrous impact this treaty would have on the U.S. economy. If one wants to dwell upon catastrophic consequences they will surely occur if the United States were to allow our nation's future and economy to be held hostage to the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. Fortunately, the debate has shifted since the negotiation of this 1997 treaty.

A review of climate change developments over the last few months presents a considerably different perspective than the one of doomsday certainty advanced by those so completely sure of climate change catastrophe. One by one, reports have come out showing the early doomsday predictions to be not only grossly overstated but inaccurate. The uncertainties and complexities of science have become more and more apparent as we extend our search for answers to climate change. Some of the earliest and strongest advocates of global warming have now revised their conclusions. And the computer models that predicted global catastrophe are just that---computer models based on "what if" scenarios and indefensible, unaccountable, imaginative assumptions.

The day to day, forecasting of the weather is an inexact science. There are variables and uncertainties about our climate we don't understand. If we're unwilling to trust the weather forecast for the next day---why would we rest the future of our nation on predictions claiming to know with great certainty, based on these computer models, what will happen 100 years from now?

I agree with the recent comments by Dr. Fred Singer, the former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service: "Climate models do call for a warming trend as levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide rise because of the burning of fossil fuels. Hence the dilemma: Do we believe theoretical models of the atmosphere or the atmosphere itself? I prefer to believe the atmosphere and the actual observations that show no current warming. If this clashes with the accepted popular wisdom and media hype, so be it. I go with published data."

The debate over climate change is complicated and frequently contradictory. There are many theories, many studies, many predictions, but very few clear answers.

We know that the earth's climate has for thousands of years gone through cycles of warming and cooling. Ice core samples from Greenland more than 2 miles deep, dating back more than 100,000 years, have shown dramatic fluctuations in the earth's temperature long before the emergence of man, much less the industrial age. Since the end of the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago, when the earth was 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than today, there have been several warming and cooling periods. The first was the Holocene Maximum 7000 years ago, with the warmest temperatures. Then there was the Medieval Warm Epoch between the years 1000-1200, when temperatures averaged 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. As Dr. Singer pointed out, "Recall that 1,000 years ago the climate was so warm that Vikings settled Greenland and grew crops there for a few centuries." The earth recently underwent a period of cooler temperatures during the Little Ice Age, which began between 1250 and 1400 and ended between 1850 and 1900. Temperatures have been increasing since then. Over the last 100 years surface temperatures have increased by approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Furthermore, most of that increase in temperature occurred before 1940---yet 80 percent of the man-made carbon dioxide was emitted after 1940.

We know that the six man-made greenhouse gases---carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and three fluorocarbons---comprise less than two percent of the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The remaining 98 percent, primarily water vapor, occur naturally.

There is a great deal that remains uncertain. There have been numerous studies looking at how man's actions may be affecting the climate---but none have been able to say unequivocally that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the current warming trend, or predict what the impact will be.

One of the problems is that many of the dire predictions for global warming have, as I mentioned before, been based on computer models. These models have continually been shown to be inaccurate in forecasting the rate of warming, and its effects on the earth. In 1990, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), using then state-of-the-art models, forecast a 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming by 2100. In 1995, the IPCC lowered that forecast to 4.14 degrees Fahrenheit.

The IPCC has stated in a report that although studies "suggest that there is some (man-made) component in the observed temperature record, they cannot be considered as compelling evidence of a clear cause-and effect link."

In June of this year, the Clinton/Gore Administration released a draft of its own National Assessment on Climate Change. They released it as a definitive report on global warming, even though two of the five studies were incomplete. However, the information they did release used two foreign computer models---the Canadian Centre model arid Britain's Hadley Centre model. This is what these two models predicted for the American Southeast---one predicted a catastrophic drought that kills off all the trees, while the other predicted increased rainfall and the expansion of the forests in this region of the U.S. Completely opposite and inconsistent results.

This is what the Environmental Protection Agency had to say about computer climate models: "Virtually all published estimates of how climate could change in the U.S. are the result of computer models.... These complicated models...are still not accurate enough to provide reliable forecasts on how the climate may change; and several models often yield contradictory results.... Scientists are unable to say whether particular regions will receive more or less rainfall; and for many regions they are unable to even state whether a wetter or drier climate is more likely."

Recent alarming reports about the melting of the polar ice caps have also been found to be extravagantly overstated. On August 19th of this year the New York Times reported in a front page story: "The North Pole is ice-free patch has opened at the very top of the world, something that has presumably never before been seen by humans and is more evidence that global warming may be real and already affecting climate. The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash with water was more than 50 million years ago." Ten days later, the Times ran a correction---which said the August 19th story 'misstated' the history of conditions at the North Pole. This is what the revised version said: "A clear spot has probably opened at the Pole before, scientists say, because about 10 percent of the Arctic Ocean is clear of ice in a typical summer." So, instead of 50 million years ago, there probably was open water at the North Pole last year. Just a slight difference. The Times went on to add that finding water at the North Pole "is not necessarily related to global warming." Incidentally, the correction did not appear on page one and a related story buried on page three of Section F quoted Dr. Mark Serreze, a climatologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center as saying, "There's been open water at the pole before. We have no clear evidence at this point that this is related to global climate change."

Dr. Singer stated in a August 29th story in the Ottawa Citizen: "All this proves little about climate change or about greenhouse warming. For this purpose we use instruments; thermometers at weather stations, radiosondes carried into the atmosphere by weather balloons and Earth-circling weather satellites that sense atmospheric temperatures remotely. All of these agree that the polar regions have not warmed appreciably in recent decades."

Furthermore, Dr. Patrick Michaels, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, noted in an August 25th article in USA Today that summer temperatures at the North and South Poles were the same in the early 19th century as they are today.

Even the scientist most associated with global warming, Dr. James Hanson, the Director NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has revised some of his earlier statements based on new research.

In 1981, Dr. Hansen was the primary author of a report describing a connection between carbon dioxide emissions and warming temperatures. In 1988, he testified before a Senate committee that human activities were causing global warming.

Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Hansen issued a new analysis which said the emphasis on carbon dioxide may be misplaced. He found that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide have already been falling, they shrank in 1998 and 1999. In his new report, he stated that other greenhouse gases---such as methane; black soot, 'cfc's, and the compounds that create smog---may be causing more damage than carbon dioxide and efforts to affect climate change should focus on these other gases. Furthermore, technology already exists to capture many of these gases. "The prospects for having a modest climate impact instead of a disastrous one are quite good, I think," Dr. Hansen was quoted as saying in the New York Times.

This is one of the most significant scientific reports since the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. The primary focus of the Kyoto Protocol is the mandatory reduction of man-made carbon dioxide emissions by the industrialized nations. But Dr. Hansen's new findings that other gases may be larger factors make the Kyoto Protocol largely irrelevant. Essentially all current black soot emissions come from developing countries, who are exempted from the Kyoto Protocol. Because of our own strong environmental policies, the United States and other industrialized countries have already virtually eliminated black soot emissions. Furthermore, the U.S. has already made great strides in reducing smog-causing gases for the health of our own domestic environment. And "cfc"s are already being phased out, with the industrialized countries taking the lead, as a result of the Montreal Protocol relating to the ozone layer.

Other preeminent climatologists and meteorologists have conducted studies which have offered credible alternatives for the causes of our warming trend.

Some of the most significant studies have been produced by Dr. Sallie Baliunas, the Director of Science Programs at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Using records of changes in the sun's magnetism going back three centuries, she has been able to closely correlate changes in the sun's brightness with temperature changes on earth. Unlike climate models, her studies have been able to explain why most of the Earth's warming in the last 100 years occurred before significant growth in man-made greenhouse gas emissions. According to her work, solar activity may be the most direct factor in global warming. Imagine that,. the earth's warming could actually be caused by the sun.

While temperatures on the earth's surface have risen slightly over the last two decades, satellite temperatures---which are far more accurate---have shown no warming over the last 20 years. In fact, from 1979 to 1997. satellites temperatures showed a slight cooling trend of .04 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on satellite readings from the first eight months of this year, the tropical region of the globe may be headed toward its coldest year in more than two decades.

We know that we are far from understanding the dynamics of our climate and what stimulates the changes it undergoes. It would be irresponsible to categorically deny that anything unusual is going on in the world's climate system. At the same time, it would be irresponsible to say we fully understand what's occurring and know what measures to prescribe to deal with it. That represents both supreme arrogance and dangerous folly.

We need to continue to seriously study climate change---why and how it occurs, what it means for humans, what it means for the future of our planet.

Clearly though, one thing we should not do is jump into a treaty that would place the United Nations in charge of U.S. energy policy and devastate our economy. That is what the Kyoto Protocol would do.

This is a treaty negotiated by an Administration in the face of clear Congressional intent. That fact gets little play---but the U.S. Senate told the Administration very clearly on what terms it would ratify a climate change treaty.

In 1997, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and I became concerned with the direction of the Clinton Administration's climate change negotiations. We introduced S. Res. 98, a resolution that called on the President not to sign any climate change treaty that would 1) cause serious harm to the U.S. economy, or 2) that did not include all countries of the world.

The Byrd-Hagel resolution passed the United States Senate in July of 1997 by a vote of 95-0. The advice of the Senate, which is our constitutional responsibility on international treaties, could not have been more clear.

But President Clinton and Vice President Gore did not heed the unanimous advice of the Senate.

Vice President Gore went to Kyoto during the final days of the UN conference and instructed our negotiators to "show increased flexibility." The result was a treaty that went far beyond the bottom line established by the President himself prior to the Kyoto negotiations.

A year later, in 1998,. President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol over the objections of Senator Byrd, me and other Senators. However, the President and Vice President have refused to send it to the Senate for ratification. because they know it has little support and would be overwhelmingly rejected. There are not now, nor do I anticipate there being, 67 votes in the U.S. Senate to approve the ratification of the Kyoto treaty.

How harmful would this treaty be? We can look at a very current and relevant example. This year Americans have faced very high oil and gasoline prices, and higher natural gas and heating oil prices are just around the corner.

The high gas prices caused such a consumer outrage that they have led to federal investigations amid congressional inquiries. But they are nothing compared to what Americans would endure under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Administration's own Energy Information Agency has estimated that implementing the Kyoto Protocol would give us an increase in gasoline prices of over 70 cents per gallon. But unlike current price fluctuations, the Kyoto fuel price increases would be permanent and would continue to grow.

High energy prices don't just effect American consumers. They would drive many American agricultural producers, manufacturing and transportation companies right out of business or out of the country.

Independent economic studies placed the job losses caused by the Kyoto Protocol in the millions.

And for what? The Kyoto Protocol has no hope of achieving its stated goal. How can it reduce global greenhouse gas emissions when it excludes more than 130 nations? Nations such as China, India, Mexico, South Korea---all of whom are already among the world's largest producers of man-made greenhouse gases.

Also, as Dr. Michaels noted in USA Today: "If all the nations of the world cut their greenhouse emissions by the amount dictated by the Kyoto Protocol, the warming in the next 50 years would drop, by a tiny 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit. But the cost would be enormous, exacerbating the world's biggest environmental problem: poverty."

Despite all of the early celebration, no industrialized nation has ratified this treaty---including our friends in Europe, who have criticized the U.S. for our lack of commitment to the environment.

It is now becoming apparent to many of the earliest and strongest supporters of the Kyoto Protocol that it is unworkable.

On June 22 of this year the Financial Times reported on a speech by Eileen Claussen before the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Eileen Claussen was an Assistant Secretary of State during most of the Clinton-Gore Administration. She and then-Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Tim Wirth were the Administration's two key architects of U.S. climate change policy, and led the U.S. negotiations that created all but the final details of the Kyoto Protocol. Ms. Claussen left the Administration just a few months before the Kyoto conference to work for an environmental program of the Pew Charitable Trust.

In her speech, she called for a renegotiation of the Kyoto targets and timetables. She said that Britain and Germany were the only two countries that looked like they had any chance of complying with Kyoto mandates. There are very clear reasons why these two nations could comply with the Kyoto Protocol. Both nations are already below the baseline of 1990 emission levels. With the reunification of Germany, the smokestacks of East Germany were included in the 1990 baseline and have since been shut down. Since 1990, Great Britain made the economic decision to switch from coal to natural gas for its power needs because of the great abundance of natural gas in the North Sea.

Ms. Claussen then argued against countries even trying to meet their Kyoto obligations, saying that any effort to reach these unreasonable targets would cause so much economic harm that it would undermine international support for cooperation on all climate change issues.

Even those who helped to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol admit that it is going nowhere. So where do we go from here?

It is time for us to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a more positive, inclusive and common sense domestic and international policy debate.

We need to turn the debate away from un-achievable, UN-mandated targets and timetables dictated by the Kyoto Protocol---and move toward a long-term commitment to research and development, a reliance on sound science, and a more efficient and productive use of energy and resources.

Legislation I have introduced with Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) is an example of this new approach. S.882 is a market-driven, technology-based answer to the Kyoto Protocol that focuses on increased research and development, incentives for voluntary action, and public-private technology initiatives.

It calls for $2 billion in new federal funding for research and development to foster energy-efficient, low-emission technologies. These would involve more efficient transportation. improved clean coal technology. greater use of nuclear power, improved agriculture and forestry techniques, and a host of other promising technologies.

By developing alternative energy sources, this bill would build a diversified energy portfolio that would make our country less vulnerable to the whims of energy cartels like OPEC.

This bill brings accountability to the climate change issue, placing responsibility in the Department of Energy. For too long, there has been a web of uncoordinated over-reaching within the Administration. The White House, EPA, State Department, Energy, USDA, AID, the Commerce Department, and many other agencies have all had a hand in climate change policy. There is no one that Congress can turn to and ask---what's going on? It is time for someone to be accountable and in charge.

Finally, this bill reaffirms Congress' commitment to voluntary efforts by American business, industry and agriculture to reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. It would strengthen current law and expand the Energy Policy Act of 1992 so that more private, voluntary efforts will be recognized.

Others in Congress have introduced forward-looking bills to increase research into climate change, develop American technology, and make our nation more energy efficient. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) has introduced two bills, which I have cosponsored. The first would provide tax incentives for the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and for the advancement of science and technology development. His other bill focuses federal research on sound science, identifies regulatory barriers to private sector efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and creates a pilot program of six international energy projects to improve private sector cooperation in climate change.:

We must continue to work to find answers to the many outstanding climate change questions. It affects all of mankind. We must continue to work to find new technologies and encourage alternative sources of cleaner energy.

We will not get there by impugning the motives of those who disagree on this issue. The Kyoto Protocol is not the only option to finding answers and taking action on climate change.

Disagreement over the Kyoto Protocol should not prevent us from working together to address the challenges of climate change. America has always been a nation of innovation. Working together, we will build onto the incredible progress that has been made over the last 30 years to clean up our environment and protect it for the future. That should be our goal.

To get there, we will need to move beyond the Kyoto Protocol and use the marketplace of ingenuity and technology.

And finally, we must view climate change not in a vacuum, but with the perspective that the world is interconnected in every way. There is a certain balance that must be pursued so that all nations, especially developing nations, are allowed to create opportunities for growth and prosperity. It is essential that we encourage and assist the development of emerging democracies and market economics. This means that productive capacity. which will require energy resources, must be part of the climate change equation. The Kyoto Protocol is more about energy than it is about the environment. It is about restricting and controlling energy production and use. As nations prosper, the world becomes more peaceful and free. When there is freedom, peace and prosperity there is less conflict, poverty, hunger and war. That is in the interest of all peoples. We must be acutely mindful of this reality and not allow climate change decisions by a few to control and impede the progress for a better life and future for others. This will not work. This will only produce a more dangerous and unstable world.

The Washington Post, a strong proponent of the Kyoto Protocol, wrote a very thoughtful editorial on this issue last week. They discussed the study by Dr. Hansen that I spoke of earlier and his conclusion that it may be "more practical to slow global warming than is sometimes assumed." In response to the Hansen study the Post wrote:

What it does do is remind us that climate issues are complex, far from fully understood and open to a variety of approaches.

It should serve as caution to environmentalists so certain of their position that they're willing to advocate radical solutions, no matter what the economic cost.

It suggests that the sensible course is to move ahead with a strong dose of realism and flexibility, focusing on approaches that are economically viable, that serve other useful purposes such as cutting dependence on foreign oil or improving public health, and that can help support international consensus for addressing climate change. (Washington Post. 8-28-00)

If we are able to do this... If we can move ahead with a strong dose of realism and flexibility... If we can put our focus on approaches that are economically viable... If we can approach climate change from those viewpoints, we will find answers. We will find solutions. And we will ensure that our children will inherit a better world. One in which we have served as responsible stewards of our rich national resources and our magnificent environment.

Lavoisier the Man
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