Maybe international treaties do send perfectly good jobs overseas after all; it’s just that these treaties do so by regulating commerce at home rather than facilitating it abroad. The Kyoto Protocol is evidence of this fact. Less than a week ago, as the European Environment Agency was celebrating reducing carbon production by close to 17%, the Guardian reported that, based on consumption of carbon rather than production of it, European greenhouse emissions actually increased significantly over the past decade:
The original 15 EU member states who signed Kyoto have dropped their emissions by 6%, giving them “a head start to reach and even over-achieve” their target under the treaty of an 8% reduction. Emissions from the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990, putting them “well on track” to meet the target to meet the EU’s own pledge of a 20% reduction by the same date, added the report.
However a report due to be published soon by the Policy Exchange think tank has measured the emissions generated by goods and services consumed by those countries and found that it has increased by more than 40%.
As a result, “demonstrating success in reducing carbon levels is questionable,” said Simon Less, the think tank’s head of environment and energy.
Although the Kyoto agreement only measures production, the stark difference in the figures highlights a key controversy in negotiations about a new treaty – which will continue at a big UN meeting in Cancún, Mexico, in December: some developing countries, such as China, argue they should not be held responsible for emissions generated by consumption in rich nations.
How to calculate emissions is just one of many problems an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases faces. Last year’s conference in Copenhagen was a failure and it is expected to be more of the same in Cancun. The senate should keep this in mind when considering proposed cap-and-trade policies or international treaties that attempt to reduce carbon dioxide but will do nothing but drive up the cost of energy use. Europe got neither more jobs nor a cleaner environment from carbon reduction policies.
James Banks is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm