THE HAGUE — Sometime after midnight yesterday, Jan Pronk, prime
minister of the Netherlands, and president of The Hague climate change
conference, released his own draft of the proposed agreements delegates
from 180 nations must adopt in order to move the Kyoto Protocol further
toward implementation. For two weeks, the delegates have been
gridlocked over major issues left unanswered when the Protocol was
adopted in Kyoto in 1997.
In Kyoto, no agreement had been reached by the final day. The
delegates went into a closed session and emerged near daylight with an
agreement in hand.
Once again, the delegates have failed to reach agreement during the
regular negotiating sessions. Once again, the conference leaders have
produced a draft in the middle of the night. Once again, selected
negotiators will go behind closed doors and will likely negotiate until
some kind of agreement is reached.
This is what the United Nations calls an open, transparent,
All week, Pronk has warned the negotiators to “remove the brackets,”
referring to clauses in the draft on which there is disagreement. He
promised that if the negotiators failed to compromise, he would write
his own draft.
Many of the delegates will be leaving today, because their travel
arrangements require it. Any agreement reached at this late hour will
be without the review of observers and without the participation of many
of the delegates.
Pronk has said that his draft will force all nations to bear the pain
equally. What that really means is that only the developed nations will
bear the pain — 150 developing nations are not bound by the Protocol.
Should the U.S. delegates sign such an agreement, they would be
deliberately ignoring a unanimous Senate resolution that says the Senate
will not ratify a treaty that fails to bind all nations.
Delegates are confronted with only two choices: 1) accept some
version of Pronk’s draft and pretend that it represents a great victory
for diplomacy, or 2) reject the agreement, admit failure and watch years
of effort unravel. Smart money is on some kind of agreement.
Failure to reach real agreement, after five years of negotiations,
should send a pretty strong signal that there may be some fundamental
flaws in the basic document. The most basic flaw was incorporated in
the original Berlin Mandate at the first Conference of the Parties in
1995 — the decision to exclude 150 developing nations. The second
basic flaw was also included — the decision to make the Protocol
legally binding, with absolutely no idea how to make it legally binding
or what the penalty might be for noncompliance. A third fatal flaw was
the decision to set a firm time line for implementation.
The time line began in 1995, in Berlin, by declaring that a Protocol
would be adopted in Kyoto in 1997. In Kyoto, the delegates declared
that the rules for implementation would be agreed at The Hague in 2000,
in order to achieve full implementation by 2002 — to celebrate the 10th
anniversary of the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development
where the original Climate Change Treaty was adopted.
The Kyoto document was premature, incomplete, ill-conceived and
adopted anyway. The vacuous deficiencies of the Kyoto document have
been compounded by efforts to shape rules for implementation of unclear
or undefined objectives.
Any agreement adopted under the circumstances that prevail at The
Hague is bound to do more harm than good. The unintended consequence of
such an agreement will be nothing more than the empowerment of a U.N.
body to do what the representatives of 180 nations could not do — write
the procedures through which the United Nations can dictate the energy
policies of 38 developed nations.
This is precisely what 150 developing nations want and it is
precisely what the United Nations wants. The primary objective of the
United Nations is to force what it calls “equity” on all nations. The
United Nations intends to be the equalizer, the manager of the earth’s
resources, to ensure that all people enjoy the benefits of the earth’s
This is the classic, utopian dream of socialism. It fails to
recognize a fundamental principle in nature: Benefit from the earth’s
resources must be earned. Benefits acquired by any other method are
either a gift, or theft. Forced equity is not a gift.