The Kyoto Agreement, produced at a 1997 United
Nations summit in Kyoto, Japan, is the first legally binding
global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.However,
even though the Kyoto Agreement offers an opportunity for nations
to cooperate to develop technologies to resist global climate
change, Bush has insisted that the United States will act alone,
and he refused to bring the Kyoto Agreement, signed by the
United States in 1998, to the Senate for ratification.
Bush claims that the Kyoto Agreement will significantly harm
the U.S. economy, and that it pressured developed countries to
cut back their emissions while it simultaneously allowed developing
countries to increase theirs.
Independent economic analyses do not support Bush’s claim
that the United States will suffer economic hardship because
of the Kyoto Agreement. One analysis, prepared by the White House
Council of Economic Advisors and released by the Clinton Administration
in 1998, found, that the cost of applying the Kyoto Agreement
would be less than 60 percent of the estimated costs if the U.S.
engaged to trade emissions with other countries. With such trading,
the cost of U.S. participation in the Kyoto Agreement would be
less than 1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)
in 2010, the same analysis concluded.
Another study, prepared by five Department of Energy national
laboratories, found that simply by promoting policies to increase
energy efficiency, the U.S. would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
to levels as required by the Kyoto Agreement. Increased energy
efficiency could also potentially improve U.S. economic performance
in the future, according to Wikipedia.
Another economic analysis, prepared by the Congressional Budget
Office and the Department of Energy Information Administration
under the Clinton Administration, demonstrated a potentially
large decline in the GDP under the Kyoto Agreement. However,
this analysis did not consider the emission reductions achieved
through energy efficiency or the possibility of emission trades
with other signed countries supporting the Kyoto Agreement.
The Bush Administration has not done any analyses of its own
to prove its claim of significant economic burden when either
the Kyoto Agreement or domestic policies are used to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, Wikipedia reported.
In addition to economic reasons, the Bush Administration accuses
the Kyoto Agreement of being unfair to developed countries by
forcing them to take the initiative in environmental protection.
Bush seems willfully unmindful of the reality that the developed
countries are the logical main actors, as they produced, according
to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), more than 75
percent of the accumulated greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere
When the Kyoto Agreement was drawn in 1997, developing countries,
such as China and India, were exempt from it. They only needed
to set voluntary limits to greenhouse gas emissions. Many developing
countries have succeeded in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions
through improved transportation, forestry, and other policies.
Emissions in China have dropped more than 17 percent since 1997,
NRDC reported, while greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase
in the United States.
The United States is the largest greenhouse gas producer, and
the only country that backed out of the Kyoto Agreement after
signing it. There is some justification for its action, though
not an environmental one.
In July 1997, before the Kyoto Agreement was negotiated, the
U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution prohibiting
the United States from being a signatory to any agreements that
do not bind developing countries as well as developed countries
or that would harm the U.S. economy. Vice President Al Gore’s
signing of the Kyoto Agreement in November 1998 is considered
a clear violation of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution.
Neither President Clinton nor President Bush brought the Kyoto
Agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification. In addition, President
Bush has not introduced any alternative plan to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions within the same time and with the same reduction
goals as the Kyoto Agreement.
Governments and environmentalists around the world are not the
only ones opposing the environmental policies set by the Bush
Administration. Many American companies are taking steps to cut
greenhouse gas emissions, even without government involvement,
reported a new study from the Sustainable Energy Institute and
Numark Associates, an environmental consulting group. The companies
that are doing so are aware of the possible public image benefits
of being seen as environmentally friendly.