There is, though, an interesting fillip that I haven't seen pointed out. When Al Gore was negotiating the Kyoto accords, he argued on behalf of the Clinton Administration that the treaty should include three types of carbon offsets. First, so-called "hot air" trading so that the US could buy credits from Russia, which would receive credits because of the post-communist collapse of its industrial base. This would account for about one-third of the US "reduction" in carbon emissions. Second, carbon-sink credits for the carbon absorbed in US forests and through reforesting. The Clinton Administration hoped to get another third of US reductions in this way. Third, a "Clean Development Mechanism" in which the US would get credit for funding cleaner energy generation and use in the developing world. This would account for about 15% of the US reduction. In other words, like Al Gore today, the Clinton administration hoped to satisfy about 80% of the US commitment to reduced carbon dioxide emissions without actually reducing carbon dioxide emissions at all.
Environmentalists howled. Here's one typical comment:
If the US gets its way, environmental groups charge that greenhouse gas emissions in the US could increase by 18 percent from 1990 levels-while still technically meeting its reduction targets.The EU, which intended to use the economic decline of Eastern Europe and Russia to help meet its goals (which is why 1990 was used as the benchmark year) blocked must of these offsets. It's nice to see Mr. Gore sticking to his guns rejecting Europe and the environmentalists and decreasing his carbon footprint without actually decreasing his carbon use.
"Accounting gimmicks may fool bureaucrats, but they will not fool Mother Nature," said Alden Meyer, director of government relations for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The climate treaty must make real cuts of real pollution or the severe storms and other impacts that we are already starting to see will only get worse."