Kyoto Myth Repeated on Fox
Reporting on preparatory negotiations kicking off on Monday in Bonn, Germany, Fox News Channel treated its viewers this weekend to a “crawler” that claimed the failed “Kyoto Protocol, which committed 183 countries to reducing emissions 5% from 1990 levels by 2012″.
No. It did not. This is a common, material misstatement premised in a UN talking point but which does not withstand scrutiny.
Kyoto committed 35 countries (not 183) to varying levels of emission “reductions” about, 30 of which amounted to emission increases. These ranged from Australia promising to “reduce” emissions by increasing them no more than +8% over 1990 levels, to the EU-15 collectively promising an actual reduction of -8% which, in practice, meant Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and other EU nations actually vowed to increase emissions, by as high as +25 above 1990 levels, all taking a free-ride on two unrelated political decisions (German reunification which effectively shut down East Germany, for a large “reduction”, and the UK “dash to gas”) accommodated by the bizarre 1990 baseline year against which performance was measured, for a 2008-2012 treaty.
Remaining countries, like the EU-10 (”Old Europe”) and Russia also rode the gift of a 1990 baseline to also get emission reduction credit for the post-Soviet collapse (which actually explains the insistence on the otherwise absurd 1990 baseline).
The media love Kyoto though it is clear that few if any among them have ever read the document. Whatever arcane details a particular outlet chooses to reveal, however, it is patently untrue to paint Kyoto as such a “global treaty” — specifically as requiring global emission reductions. 150 other countries participated, it is true, but many receive wealth transfers as their only obligation. Kyoto was by its own threshold terms a selective pact limiting emissions among a handful of nations all of whom but the US, Japan and Canada had an artificial “out”.