Russia’s intention to sign the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, leaving only the USA and Australia as the non-signatories of the developed world, has been misreported.
Reading the media commentaries on this “decision”, it is clear that this is not the case at all because Russia has NOT submitted the Kyoto Protocol to the Duma for ratification but might do so after “further clarification of certain aspects” as stated by the Russia Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in the Hague recently (Linked here ).
Despite this, a renewed call for Australia to sign the protocol has been made but so far Prime Minister Howard has, correctly, refused. Interestingly a SMH poll of 2 October shows support for signing the protocol to be 85% here and one hopes this will not be reflected in the forthcoming Australian Election.
In fact signing the Kyoto Protocol would cause immense economic damage to Australia, as well as Russia, and it is for this reason that Russia is continuing its negotiations with the EU. Indeed it seems that the Kyoto Protocol is a political ploy for Russia in its continuing negotiations between the EU and the WTO, rather than a serious solution to climate change.
However there is no doubt that the science behind the Kyoto Protocol is seriously flawed, and scientific analysis has focussed on the temperature measurements themselves and how the “global average temperature” is calculated. Since the collapse of the USSR in 1989 most meteorological organisations around the world had to significantly reduce their monitoring stations due to a reduction in funding, resulting in the closure of many rural stations. This resulted in a bias towards the urban stations with a corresponding apparent rise in mean temperature. Even more devastating to the global warming position were three recent scientific papers showing the climate sceptics were right – that the end of the planet is not nigh. One of the curious facts mentioned by Michaels et al was that the higher the GDP of a nation, statistically speaking, the warmer it got. Indeed it was shown that up to half the warming in the UN surface temperature could be attributed to economic factors such as land use, changes in instrumentation etc (summary of papers here).
And for some of us in the geological profession, it seemed that the actual methodology of estimating the temperature of the atmosphere was in error. Typically the earth is subdivided into graticule blocks of 5 minutes latitude and longitude, with the average mean temperature computed for each graticule block. This seemed much like a mineral ore-reserve calculation and, without getting into the intricacies of this statistical discipline, it become quickly obvious that what was being estimated was not the thermal state of the atmosphere but the mean temperature of the measuring thermometers themselves. Little wonder the climate models are inherently problematical. Further scientific and economic evidence against anthropogenic global warming is summarised by Bob Foster here .
Much is also made of the historical atmospheric record contained in the ice at Antarctica and Greenland but as Dr. Z Jaworowski’s paper shows here past Carbon Dioxide levels cannot be accurately estimated from ice cores, and goes on to show that the initial CO2 global warming hypothesis of Callendar was based on a biased use of the data. Measured historical CO2 levels were actually higher in the near historical past so the science is settled. This leaves the economic ramifications of implementing the Kyoto Protocol.
The political intent of the Kyoto Protocol is to force the developed nations to reduce their CO2 emissions to certain levels while allowing the under developed nations to maintain and accelerate their economic growth and of course not curtail their greenhouse gas emissions. While Castles and Henderson have shown that the economic theory behind the Kyoto Protocol is severely flawed it is the economic repercussions of implementing Kyoto that is suddenly being realised. In short Kyoto will be economically devastating to the west.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal notes that a new report on Europe shows that Kyoto stands to inflict devastating damage to the economies of European Union (EU) nations.
“Compliance with the Kyoto Protocol will cost Germany and Britain about 5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and increase unemployment by 1.8 million and one million respectively. The Netherlands is set to lose 3.8 percent of its GDP and 240,000 jobs, and Spain 5 percent and one million jobs.” The WSJ further comments “However, a recent scientific report from the European Science and Environment Forum demonstrates that there isn't a consensus that man is to blame for much of recent warming, and costs of warming have been modest”.
While this scenario is based on European statistics, it is clear that it is equally applicable to Australia – and is what we can expect if we sign Kyoto. One of the more controversial solutions to curb CO2 emissions was to pump this gas back into the ground, as the Chief Scientist of Australia, Dr Robin Batterham, advocated and reported here on the ABC 7:30 report – and of course while it might be technically feasible, the cost would be prohibitive. We tend to forget that CO2 is a benign gas and that without it we would not be here either.
And in light the impending Australian election, one wonders whether the both parties have factored in the economic damage that will be inflicted on our economy by implementing Kyoto. A reduction of 5% in Australia’s GDP would have a devastating effect on some of the policies both parties advocate.
It is for our own economic survival that we must not sign the Kyoto Protocol – and despite what we read in the media, Russia has not signed - she is playing politics with the EU as Hans Labohm writes in this pertinent article. So Australia must not allow itself to be caught up in this Machiavellian drama pre-occupying Europe.