U.S. Should Put U.N. Climate Conferences on Ice

The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently holding its 18th meeting in Doha, Qatar. The two-week conference ending on December 7 is intended to jump-start the stalled negotiations on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Midway through the meetings, it is clear that very little of substance will transpire, which has been the case for years.

The past four years have demonstrated conclusively that there is no international consensus for action. The U.S. should refuse to attend future U.N. conferences on climate change, call for a moratorium on future conferences unless there is a fundamental shift in position among key countries, and focus its efforts on alternative forums involving key countries. Further, the U.S. should prevent and remove unilateral attempts to address climate change that have adverse economic effects and no environmental benefit.

Talking in Circles

The U.N. has been the central forum for discussing climate change issues for more than two decades. The U.N. led the effort to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988, which released its first report in 1990 and, unsurprisingly, confirmed the global warming theory and laid the foundation for an international agreement to address the issue. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit produced the UNFCCC, wherein countries pledged to consider actions to limit global temperature increases and cope with the resulting impact of climate change.

The high point of UNFCCC efforts was the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which established binding restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in 37 industrialized countries, including principally the European Community, by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008–2012.

The U.S. is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, and supporters of the pact point to this fact to justify its failure. In reality, even accepting all IPCC model assumptions, shortcomings of the agreement—particularly the exemption of major developing country sources of greenhouse gas emissions, loopholes, and other ruses that allow some developed countries to largely avoid emissions reductions—ensured that the Kyoto Protocol would do virtually nothing to reduce emissions and have no detectable impact on climate change.[1] The bottom line is that even with perfect compliance and U.S. participation, Kyoto would not significantly arrest projected global warming.

Read more at The Heritage Foundation. By Brett D. Schaefer and Nicolas Loris.

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