What Kyoto?

Canada, Japan, the European Union, and other Kyoto-supporting countries (in addition to us mad enviro types) seemed rather thrilled with Russia’s progress toward ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Formally it is just ninety days more until the treaty’s implementation. No such hearty congratulations, though, were heard from George W. Bush, who threw in the towel on Kyoto negotiations in March 2001 despite the fact that the U.S. is proud producer of more than one-third of global greenhouse-gas emissions. In fact, no statements on the matter were released by either the Bush or Kerry campaigns, and unsurprisingly only scattered, unenthused coverage emerged from America’s newsy bunch.

The question bothering me at this point- is not why Kyoto is being cold-shouldered (obviously– international politics vis-a-vis America is dealt with stony silence and later war) but is more in the vein of how America plans to deal with the obvious impact that the implementation of Kyoto will have on America’s economic and political landscape.

The protocol contains legally binding emissions standards requiring 36 industrialized countries to reduce their combined greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 5 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012. These targets it seems to me will have widespread ramifications for industrial activities within those countries — and by virtue of global economics ystems depending on trade– even activities conducted by U.S. corporations.

What is more obvious is that, it would make little sense for corporations to undertake this kind of shift abroad (a GE company in an Kyoto ratified EU country for example) but not at home. It evidently also makes more economic sense because Kyoto is based on what is described as a ‘ global cap-and-trade’ program, which is, a fancy ‘corporate-y’ term for this phenomenon: companies that get into the system first (since it is mandatory) will have an advantage — they can buy cheap emissions credits before the price starts to go up.

Is there some sinister economic logical link I am missing?