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Eizenstat, Hon. Stuart E., Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business,
IMPLICATIONS OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL ON CLIMATE CHANGE
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1998
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:25 a.m. In room SD-419, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Chuck Hagel presiding.
Present: Senators Hagel, Thomas, Grams, Biden, Sarbanes, Kerry, Robb, and Feingold.
Senator HAGEL. The committee will please come to order.
Not unlike many occurrences up here, we are getting started late because of a vote. So we appreciate very much your patience.
Senator Helms is in another meeting and has asked me to get going. We know your time is valuable and our colleagues are anxious to talk a little bit about this issue. So we are grateful that you could come up.
It could be worse, Mr. Secretary. You could be dealing with Iraq. This is just an "easy" subject this morning, climate control.
I am going to begin with my statement and then will ask my colleagues for any additional comments. Then we will get started with your statement, Mr. Secretary, and questions.
Senator HAGEL. In the last session of Congress, as you know, Mr. Secretary, I chaired three subcommittee hearings in advance of the Kyoto Conference. We now have a finished product from Kyoto. The administration refers to this finished product, the Kyoto Protocol, as a "work in progress.'
This leaves people with the mistaken impression that the treaty remains under negotiation and that objectionable parts of the treaty can be negotiated away before it is submitted to the Senate for advice and consent. But this is not the case, I think, as you know.
This treaty cannot be amended until it goes into force, and even then, only by a three-quarters vote of all countries that have become party to the protocol. Developing countries which are not bound by any emissions limits in this protocol make up more than three-quarters of the world's Nations.
Certainly, later actions of subsequent U.N. Conferences might add to the protocol. It might expand U.N. regulations and interpretations of how the treaty would be carried out. Later actions might define compliance measures and enact U.N. sanctions against countries that do not meet their legally binding commitments under the treaty.
But what is in the protocol today, including its many objectionable provisions, will not change prior to it coming into force that is, assuming it ever comes into force.
This treaty requires a seven percent below 1990 levels emissions cut for the U.S. during the years 2008 to 2012. In real terms, this would be a devastating 40 percent reduction in projected emissions for the United States. It is inevitable that this extreme cut in energy would cause serious harm to our economy.
Furthermore, developing countries like China, Mexico, South Korea and 131 other Nations are totally exempt from any of these new restrictions placed on industrial countries. A later change of the treaty requires, as I mentioned, a three- quarters vote after the treaty has already gone into force.
Last July, the Senate went clearly on record by passing 95 to 0 Senate Resolution 98, the Byrd-Hagel Resolution. Even more significant than the 95 to 0 vote is that the bipartisan resolution has 65 cosponsors.
This resolution was very clear, as you know. The resolution called on the President not to sign any Kyoto Treaty or agreement unless two minimum conditions were met. It said the President should not sign any treaty that either caused serious harm to the U.S. economy or that did not place legally binding obligations on the developing countries to limit or reduce their emissions in the same compliance period as that required for industrialized Nations. Nowhere does the resolution mention the administration's nebulous standard of achieving "meaningful commitments by developing countries."
As our colleague and coauthor of Senate Resolution 98, Senator Robert Byrd, noted in his floor statement of 2 weeks ago, the Kyoto Protocol fails-fails-to meet either of the requirements of Senate Resolution 98. It fails to meet the minimum criteria set unanimously by the U.S. Senate.
In his floor statement, Senator Byrd called on the President not to sign this treaty, and I agree with Senator Byrd.
I will not now go into all of the details on why this particular protocol is so seriously flawed. But they can be grouped in five general areas. These are: no developing country commitments is number 1; number 2, economic harm to the United States economy; number 3, fair treatment for U.S. interests; number 4, impact on our national sovereignty; and, number 5, impact on our national security.
I expect to ask those questions as we get later into the hearing. This returns us to the question of whether the President will choose to sign this treaty when it is open for signature at the United Nations on March 16 of this year and, if he does, then whether he intends to send it, send this treaty if he signs it, to the Senate this year.
I hope, Secretary Eizenstat, that you will be able to give us a clear answer to these questions and others.
The President claims that the treaty, again, "is a work in progress." If so, it makes no sense to sign a flawed treaty, thereby giving our future leverage in negotiating strength away. This would be compounding the President's and Vice President's past mistakes. These include agreeing to the Berlin Mandate and pub
licly calling on our negotiators in Kyoto to show increased flexibility, which the Vice President did when you and your team were trying to hold to the President's own position that he clearly enunciated last October.
The President's position included insistence that emission cuts not go below the 1990 level and the so-called "meaningful participation of developing countries."
I will be very interested in understanding from you, sir, what precisely was it that the administration meant and does mean by "meaningful participation of developing countries" since we gave it away in Kyoto.
But if the President believes this treaty is good enough to sign, it should be good enough to submit to the Senate for open, honest debate. The American people have a right to know exactly what the President has obligated them to do under this treaty.
There is also a document known as the United States Constitution. The U.S. Senate has a constitutional responsibility to provide its advice and consent for all treaties agreed to by the President. Until this treaty is ratified by the Senate, there should be no action taken by the administration to implement obligations under the treaty through Executive Order, regulation, or budgetary fiat.
I look forward to receiving your comments on these points as well as others.
[The prepared statement of Senator Hagel appears in the Appendix.]
Senator HAGEL. With that, let me call now, Mr. Secretary, on my colleagues for any statements they may wish to submit. Secretary Robb I mean Senator Robb.
Senator ROBB. Sometimes I'm not sure, too. [General laughter] Senator ROBB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Eizenstat, thank you for coming today. I have known you for many years and have a very high regard for your skills in a variety of different areas, and certainly you are unsurpassed as a negotiator. You have just been given a fairly tough list of questions to respond to. I regret that I have two other hearings, one in Intelligence and one in Armed Services, that are taking place at the same time. But I wanted to hear your opening statement and I hope you will be able to address as many of the concerns that were raised by Chairman Hagel as possible.
I was one of the cosigners of the letter that indicated that we thought at the very least we ought to be concerned about serious adverse economic impact on our own economy and particularly participation in some form by the developing countries.
I must say that those concerns have not yet been addressed to my satisfaction. But I commend you on the negotiations with a very difficult topic, with disparate views given to you from many participants in the United States. I look forward to your testimony here.
I may have some followup questions for the record later on. But at the very least I thank you for what you have attempted to do, which will probably provide little comfort and not a great deal of understanding at this point. But I recognize the task you have undertaken.