Next week, diplomats and politicians from across the world will invade Copenhagen, Denmark for U.N. climate change talks that were supposed to be the culmination of years of international negotiations over a treaty designed to replace the unsuccessful Kyoto treaty, which failed to produce any reduction in greenhouse gases.
Fortunately for taxpayers, the United States never ratified Kyoto, and President Obama and other world leaders have already said that the U.S. will not agree to a repeat of the failed treaty.
Unfortunately, these talks won’t address the concern that many in the U.S. now have about the scientific integrity and transparency of climate studies. Last week, global warming alarmists were rocked by the release of a trove of e-mail correspondence – known by many as ClimateGate – from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
Head U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern has repeatedly said that the U.S. should be “guided by science” in our approach to these climate negotiations. But how can we follow the lead of scientists who use “tricks” to “hide the decline” in temperatures? Who scheme to get around Freedom of Information requirements? Who refuse to share the data that supports their work? Who tailor scientific results to hawk for research grants? And who consciously scheme to discredit and repress studies that don’t support their conclusions?
ClimateGate will not be a topic in the meeting rooms of Copenhagen. I plan to attend the Conference in Denmark, however, and it will be one of my top agenda items.
Other issues I plan to closely follow, include:
1) Wealth transfers: China emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation. Other developing countries, like India and Brazil, are also heavy emitters. But before these nations agree to even monitor their greenhouse gas emissions, they demand to be paid. Some are asking for as much one percent of the developed world’s GDP. For the U.S., that’s a price tag of $140 billion a year—more than 5 times our entire foreign aid budget of $28 billion per year.
2) Unrealistic cuts: If mandated on an artificial timeframe without allowing for technological advances, greenhouse gas emissions cuts will raise energy prices and hinder development. That’s why China, India and other developed countries are so reluctant to agree to them. The U.S. should be too. Despite their heavy majority, Democrats in the House had to arm twist to get just enough votes for a 17 percent cut in emissions in the job-killing cap-and-tax bill passed in June. Some in Copenhagen will be pushing for developed countries to commit to a 40 percent cut by 2020. Cuts of this magnitude would be impossible without a complete and total collapse of the U.S. economy.
3) Intellectual property rights: The only economically responsible way to reduce emissions is through technological advances. Developing countries, however, are demanding free access to new energy technologies. Those who would develop these technologies would therefore lose the right to profit from them. How’s that for an incentive to create?
4) No developing country commitments: Despite their calls for big payouts, free technology and big emission cuts from the developed world, developing countries like China and India have unequivocally said they will not make their own cuts. Studies show that if developing countries don’t cut their emissions, we won’t reduce global greenhouse gas levels. If China and India are so concerned about global warming – as opposed to getting paid and getting free technology – then they must agree to genuine emission cuts.
Negotiators in Copenhagen won’t be discussing ClimateGate, but they should. The agenda they do plan to discuss is more alarming than the potential consequences of global warming.
Rep. Sensenbrenner is ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.