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

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail