How Clinton-Gore Undermined The Kyoto Climate Agreement

| Educate!

Note: The article below provides some history on the UN climate process in the Clinton-Gore era. In another article we report how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton with the aid of NSA and other intelligence agencies undermined the Copenhagen climate agreement. This history shows how the Trump decision is not much different than the traditional response by the US on the climate crisis. KZ

The Clinton-Gore-Kyoto Connection 

Once Upon a Time, Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet. He also laid claim, along with the rest of the Clinton administration, to having “reinvented government.” A few years ago he re-invented himself as a modern-day Paul Revere galloping ac­ross the country on his white horse crying, “To arms, to arms, the Climate is Changing.” Yet back in the 1990s while the rest of the world was negotiating a mandatory reduction in industrial emissions that were punching holes in the Ozone layer, it was none other than Al Gore, Vice President of the United States, who traveled to Kyoto, Japan to take those negotiations hos­tage and prevent a ban on targeted emissions.4

Gore commandeered the Kyoto conference. The U.S. government, he said, would not sign the Accord – as limited as it was – if it imposed emissions reductions on industrial countries. Instead, he demanded that the rest of the world adopt his proposal that would allow industrial nations like the U.S. to continue polluting by establishing an international trade in carbon pollution credits. Gore’s “solution” – like Obama’s – was to turn pollution into a commodity and buy and sell it in the form of “pollution rights”. The free market trade in “pollution credits” would simply shift around pollution and spread it out more evenly without reducing the total amount of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases. It would allow the United States and other industrial countries to continue polluting the rest of the world.

In proposing (and imposing) that mechanism, Gore and Clinton were enacting a policy – trade in pollution credits – that had first been put into effect in a more limited way by President George H.W. Bush under the 1990 extension to the Nixon administration’s “Clean Air Act.”5 The mechanisms were developed by the World Bank (under Summers’ tutelage) and International Monetary Fund, and this quintessential capitalist policy was actually endorsed by several well-known environmental groups.

The global trade in industrial waste emissions credits, as I wrote above, were a new kind of commodity and would require new regulations and agencies to administer their authorization and trade. Clinton and Gore constructed an elaborate set of structures such as the World Trade Organization, and treaties such as NAFTA, GATT, and the FTAA to do just that. Under the new trade bureaucracy, countries would not be allowed to exempt themselves from trade – not even from imports of toxic wastes or trade in pollution credits – regardless of environmental or social justice considerations. The entire edifice institutionalized the complex mechanisms designed to save capitalism from the demands of the growing grassroots environmental and global justice movements.

In his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance – much praised (foolishly but to be expected, in my estimation) by the large environmental not-for-profit corporations vested in the current economic system – Al Gore laid out the ideological basis for his flawed pro-capitalist solution to environmental destruction and climate change: Rely on voluntary self-regulation by corporations and the governments they control. Forget that industrial corporations (including enormous slaughterhouses of factory-farmed animals) have been the primary source of toxic pollution. To remain competitive within the existing system and to maximize profits, corporations cannot voluntarily end pollution if it is cheaper for them to pollute. That is a fundamental capitalist dynamic. It propels corporations to basically use the earth as their ashtray in reckless disregard of the consequences to human and planetary health. Governmental action is required to regulate pollution and even the playing field for all.

Gore ignored that reality and built the rationale for his framework upon the fiction that corporations could and would on their own stop their emissions of greenhouse gases and pollution, and play the necessary role in cleaning up the environment.6 Despite the literally world-shaking consequences of global climate change that Gore graphically documents in his film “An Inconvenient Truth,” he refuses to challenge or even regulate the system that has driven the planet to the brink of destruction.

A number of key environmental organizations accepted Gore’s delusion that corporations, working with government and consumers, would or could save the environment while maintaining the same set of economic relationships and expansion of capitalist trade. Seven of the largest environmental groups – National Wild­life Federation, Natural Resour­ces Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund, National Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, and Defenders of Wildlife – joined the charade; they came out in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),7 trouncing opposition by smaller, more radical grass­roots ecology groups and trade unions. At a time when a united environmental movement could have made a huge difference, these organizations provided Gore and Clinton with carte blanche for pursuing neoliberal policies that have so devastated the planet.

Gore and the pro-NAFTA environmental groups created a partnership that established “free market” trade in pollution credits, basically asking corporations to deliver the world from the ravages that they themselves had created. Utter nonsense, but its ideological underpinnings were based on an outrageous document justifying the dumping of toxic wastes in poor countries. That document was written by an economist and policy-maker working at the World Bank at the time: Lawrence Summers.

  • AlanMacDonald

    While many people view this as important because of the importance of the
    Global Warming ‘issue’, I view this as even more strategically
    significant as the meta-causal and first fissure in the U.S. HQed
    Disguised Global Capitalist EMPIRE’s potential fall/collapse —- IF
    and only IF the people of America take their heads out of something and
    go into the streets in large numbers to protest not just Trump but the
    EMPIRE — that BOTH effin Phony Political ‘front’ facade Parties work
    for and are owned by!!!

    And while the initial First American “Political Revolution against
    EMPIRE” [Justin du Rivage] was the 18th century’s New World breaking
    away from European Empires’ disease on the world at that time, this
    initial fissure of a more progressive Europe (and the rest of the
    anti-EMPIRE world) breaking away from the orbit of this current U.S.
    secretly developed, HQed, DGCEmpire only ‘posing’ as our former country
    is not only hopefully the culmination of Revolutions in 1776, 1789,
    1848, 1917, 1960’s, and 1989-91, but possibly the a final “turning away”
    from Empire at last.

    I will not hazard a guess on whether the current epoch of Trump as
    faux-Emperor of the DGCEmpire is a result of Empire planning for their
    2016 regime ‘front’ or whether unplanned circumstances to Empire
    strategy occurred exogenously.

    However, whether planned by the Empire to ‘expose’ an overtly and
    extreme ‘Emperor-like’ figurehead (eg. Trump) in order to drive the
    political dial back toward the ‘smoother-lying’ neoliberal ‘D’ Vichy
    party type (eg. Bill Clinton or Obama-like) faux-Emperors as ‘cover’ for
    the underLYING DGCEmpire, or whether Trump was an erroneous quirk who
    is more dangerous and “visibly imperial”, and possibly ‘off the leash’
    (like the banking and industrial installed Herr Hitler), the net effect
    of our current situation is that ‘we the American people’ have been
    presented with the most amazing opportunity to “see and understand” that
    BOTH the Vichy parties and all of the faux-Emperors that have been
    presented by the DGCEmpire over the last 9 ‘least worse voting scams’
    need to be ‘exposed’ and expunged (if not non-violently ‘excised’) from
    any functional democracy worth being called ‘our country’.

    It is critically important at this uniquely propitious time in human
    history to recognize that BOTH Vichy Parties and BOTH types of
    ‘rougher-talking’ neocon “R’ Vichy Party candidates, AND
    ‘smoother-lying’ neoliberal-con ‘D’ Vichy Party candidates must never
    again be allowed to show their deadly specters across our former
    country’s ‘body politic’ if the body of anything approaching a real
    functional democracy (or even a minimally representative Republic) is to
    be revived.

    While I’ve been saying substantially the same effin thing since 2007,
    and yet, unfortunately the American people, even the supposedly more
    informed sector of the American people here and elsewhere who appear to
    be leftish, pseudo progressive, and read supposed alt media appear to be
    TSTSTFE (too stupid to save themselves from Empire).

    “And so it goes”, as Kurt Vonnegut died saying.

    To be a bit more fair to some Americans I should perhaps have said
    TSADBTMPSTSTFE (too stupid and deluded by the media/propaganda-sector to
    save themselves from Empire), but that’s a pretty long acronym to
    unpack.

  • mwildfire

    I think this is true but it seems to conflate the Montreal Protocol on ozone depleting CFCs with the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

  • Aquifer

    That’s true – throwing that ozone bit in there confuses the issue ….

  • Aquifer

    Oh but we would have been sooo much better off with Gore as Pres., eh? – even as evidence trickles out that he was as much of an “Iraq regime changer” as Bush (remember the sanctions that killed half a million kids – which prive Albright said was “worth it”)?

  • DHFabian

    Are we ready to admit that the powerful Clinton/Gore New Democrat wing have undermined progress in every respect?

    When it comes to reducing our contribution to climate change, we seem to be stuck. We’ve been calling for alternatives to fossil fuels for decades, and have encountered a long line of obstructions. Today, it would take significant taxpayer dollars to make the changes that are needed, and the dollars aren’t there. A huge percentage of the budget goes toward covering our military/war bills and building prisons. Because the US itself has grown poorer since the 1980s, tax revenues continue to shrink even as military expenditures continue to grow.

    And then there is the need for public education concerning these issues — requiring an investment that taxpayers oppose. People commonly think, for example, that our excessive dependency on privately-owned motor vehicles has no impact, thanks to “modern technology.” In fact, motor vehicles account for 27% of the greenhouse gasses produced by the US. Now look to manufacturing, in an era of job shortages and significant (if ignored) US poverty. How many factory workers are willing to give up their jobs for the sake of a cleaner environment, knowing there’s nothing to fall back on?

  • DHFabian

    I get your point, but I think our opportunity to address the inter-related issues came and went during the Obama years. The general public was interested in other stuff.

    Of course the US is going down. We looked at the policies and programs that were implemented from FDR to Reagan, which took the country to its height of wealth and productivity, and chose to do the exact opposite. As a result, the overall quality of life in the US plunged from #1 among all nations when Reagan was first elected (far from perfect, but…), down to #48 by the time Obama was elected. And we pursued the longest, most expensive war in US history.

    We can’t rebuild this time because, since the 1980s, the US shipped out a huge number of family-providing manufacturing jobs, transitioning to bottom-wage labor. We created an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are desperate for any job, any wage, so there’s no need for employers to pay more. We remain on our downhill slide.

  • Steve1027

    This makes me wonder what opportunities pulling out of Paris may present to us. Climate action at the highest levels of government have always been coopted by corporations, which is why perhaps fossil fuel companies were lobbying to stay in–to have an overwhelmingly powerful seat at the table via the US gov’t.

  • Dawn Wolfson

    Past ready. Well past it…