FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How the Kyoto Protocol Was Gored

by JOSHUA FRANK

 

Seems as though Al Gore’s part-documentary part-campaign flick is reaching quite a few people this summer, environmentalists and skeptics alike. Perhaps the ol’ VP is repenting for some of the dirty deeds he supported during his compliant years in Washington.

One of the more egregious of Gore’s follies, while serving his country, came about in the late-1990s when the Clinton administration was debating whether or not to back the largest international environmental pact in history, the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Gore, the big “enviro,” despite common belief, was the one most responsible for Clinton’s derailment of the landmark accord.

Seems contradictory, I know. Here’s the most populist environmentalist speaking out about the fact that the Earth is rapidly warming — indeed, pointing out that humans are at least partially to blame. Yet, when he had the power to do something significant at the governmental level, Gore refused to act. In fact, Gore’s culpability in enviro degradation goes well beyond his family’s past ownership in Occidental Petroleum, where they owned over a quarter of a million dollars in the company while Gore sought the presidency in 2000.

It was the winter of 1997 when Vice President Gore, who was in direct control of Clinton’s environmental policies, flew to Japan to address the international delegation about the US position on the Kyoto Protocol. Gore and Clinton had just come off an election victory and it was time to pay back the big oil and gas companies who had handed over $6 million to their party the year before.

Gore warmed up his attentive audience by affirming that Clinton and the US public believed the Earth was in peril and that all global citizens must act swiftly to save it. But in typical Gore doublespeak, he declared the United States would not support the agreement because it did not ask enough of developing nations, even though the US is the leading polluter in the world.

As Gore put it then, “Signing the Protocol, while an important step forward, imposes no obligations on the United States. The Protocol becomes binding only with the advice and consent of the US Senate.”

Gore soon returned to Washington only to reiterate his message that the Clinton administration would not put the Kyoto Protocol before the Senate. “As we have said before, we will not submit the Protocol for ratification without the meaningful participation of key developing countries in efforts to address climate change,” he said.

It was at that moment when Clinton and Gore ruined any chances of the Kyoto Protocol being honestly debated in Washington. Later in November of 1998, Gore “symbolically” signed the accord, likely to appease his environmental pals like the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, a close friend.
But the Vice President’s tepid gesture couldn’t have carried less weight. The Clinton administration, with Gore’s guidance, refused to allow the Republican controlled Senate to decide on the Kyoto Protocol for themselves. Gore advised Clinton not to send the Protocol to the Senate to be ratified. The blame could have burdened the Republican Party, not the Democrats and the Clinton administration. But instead the buck stopped with Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Predictably, President Bush followed their lead.

And there you have it. It was Mr. Global Warming himself who first tried to kill off the Kyoto Protocol.

JOSHUA FRANK, author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005) edits www.BrickBurner.org. He can be reached at: BrickBurner@gmail.com.

 

 

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail