In response to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference December 7th through 18th, The Heritage Foundation is launching a video series to cover all the details and aspects of the climate summit. We’ll address all the angles (climate, energy, national security, sovereignty, trade, and more) and provide you with everything you need to know about Copenhagen.

Up first is Senior Policy Analyst on Energy & Environment Ben Lieberman discussing a 1997 Senate Resolution that should guide U.S. policy for Copenhagen.


The importance of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, passed unanimously with a 95-0 vote before the Kyoto Protocol, is two-fold.

• Specifically, the resolution states that the U.S. and other developed nations should not enter into a treaty requiring reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and other greenhouse gasses unless it includes binding agreements from developing nations. Any attempt to reduce carbon dioxide in the U.S. will be futile in China and other fast-growing emitters are exempt. Having developing countries commit to a treaty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Copenhagen is highly unlikely to occur.

• The resolution also states that the U.S. should not enter into any treaty that “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States.” The Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. wisely chose not to be a signatory, called for a 5 percent reduction below 1990 baseline emissions levels. Not only did the U.S. outperform most of the countries that did sign the Kyoto Protocol in terms of emissions reductions, countries in the European Union ended up paying for it with a costly Carbon Trading Scheme. Although it was unsuccessful in reducing emissions, there was a massive cost in attempting to do so for Europe, estimated at $67.75 billion to $170.84 billion through 2008.

Bryd-Hagel should be the criteria the U.S. uses for the climate summit; any treaty that comes out of Copenhagen will in all likelihood fail at both.  For all of Heritage’s work on the Copenhagen climate summit, visit our Copenhagen Consequences page.