The much-lauded Kyoto Treaty to control greenhouse gases will never be implimented: here's why:
Meeting Kyoto Protocol targets on greenhouse gas emissions will reduce European economic growth significantly.
The US and Australian governments have opted out of Kyoto over economic concerns; and this new analysis of four European states from the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) endorses their view that the protocol will prove expensive.The dawning awareness of just how costly the Kyoto agreement is likely to be to implement is one reason why Tony Blair has recently been making unfamiliar noises about looking for alternatives, though the irony here is that according to this study at least, Britain is actually likely to suffer less damage from the treaty than many another European signatory. What gives even more cause for bemusement is that even if Europe does implement the treaty, the net impact on worldwide emissions will be minimal:
It concludes that by 2010 - the middle of the four-year period in which Kyoto signatory states are supposed to meet their targets - Spain's economic growth will be reduced by 3.1% from what it would have otherwise been, Italy's by 2.1%, Britain's by 1.1% and Germany's by 0.8%.
ICCF managing director Margo Thorning said that these reductions took into account a projected uptake of green technologies.
"We have a fair amount of new, clean technology already embedded in our forecasts," she told the BBC News website, "so we're already assuming more use of renewables, more efficiency and so on.
"We also assume the development of a regime in Europe which all energy use would be subject to in an attempt to push emissions down."
Currently, the European Union's principal mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), includes only industrial producers.
But most of the EU's pre-expansion countries are some way off meeting their Kyoto targets, and there are moves to include the domestic and transport sectors in an expanded ETS.
The ICCF analysis suggests this would raise energy costs to a considerable degree, with electricity prices across the continent growing by an average 26% by 2010.
This means, it says, that economies would suffer, increasing unemployment by several hundred thousand people in each of the countries studied as well as reducing growth.
"By 2010, the net reduction in global emissions from Europe meeting the Kyoto Protocol will be only 0.1%," said Margo Thorning, "because all the growth is coming in places like India, China and Brazil.How many lost percentage points in growth is a 0.1% reduction in emissions worth? The tradeoff scarcely seems worthwhile to me; the Kyoto Protocol is a glaring example of European nations rushing like lemmings to sign up to a foolish policy simply in order to belong to the club and feel superior to the American yahoos, without giving any real regard to what the likely cost to their own populations would be, and rejecting it out of hand was one of the few things I can give George W. Bush for getting right. Something must be done about global warming, yes, but whatever needs to be done must be cost-effective: global warming isn't worth combatting at any price whatsoever.
PS: The relevant ICCF studies can be found on this page.