SUMMARY
INTRODUCTION

ENERGY MYTHS

ENVIRONMENTAL MYTHS

OPEN QUESTIONS AND OVERLOOKED REALITIES

POLICY IMPLICATIONS
APPENDIX


 

 

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MYTHS

MYTH 10: THE KYOTO PROTOCOL REQUIRES ALL COUNTRIES TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, most particularly former vice president Al Gore, tout it as the optimal international mechanism to curb global warming.[23] The idea behind it, we are told, is that it binds everyone to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This notion has taken hold in the popular consciousness. Roughly 60 percent of respondents to the MI/Zogby survey indicated that they believe that the Kyoto treaty requires all countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases.

In fact, the Kyoto Protocol does not require every nation to reduce its greenhouse gas levels. Overall, Kyoto requires developed nations to reduce emissions by a total of 5 percent by 2012, but the reductions negotiated by particular treaty participants vary according to each signatory’s situation. Several nations actually are permitted increases in their greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, while others are allowed to maintain the same levels. Perhaps most objectionable is the treatment received by signatories China and India: despite contributing huge stores of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, both nations are exempt from making any reductions. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions from China, India, and other developing countries will likely “account for most of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the next quarter-century.”[24] The International Energy Agency projects that China will lead the world in emitting carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas linked to global warming, by 2009.[25]

Public ignorance about the Kyoto Protocol has allowed treaty proponents to assume the moral high ground, singling out the United States for refusing to comply with its obligations under the treaty, which was signed by Vice President Al Gore in 1998 but never submitted to the Senate for approval. (The first phase of the treaty would require the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions during the 2008–12 time frame to a level that is 7 percent lower than the amount emitted in 1990.)

 

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT: MYTHS AND FACTS

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Clarice Smith
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Manhattan Institute
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