12 Apr 2022 06:45 am
by RT Investigative
Files declassified by the US National Security Archives reveal the extent of paranoid and aggressive American backroom harassment in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. The historic agreement of the 1990s, which committed almost every country in the world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent further increases in global warming, is thus reduced to a mockery.
In particular, Washington wanted the Pentagon to be exempt from emissions targets. This desire was understandable, because a 2019 published study from Durham and Lancaster Universities found that the US military is “one of the biggest polluters in history, using more liquid fuels and emitting more CO₂ than most countries.” If it were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
Still, President Joe Biden has climate change as his biggest concern threat for national security, although a cynic might suspect the real fear is that environmental degradation could result in the US defense budget – $768 billion in this year – is somewhat shortened. This was certainly the case in advance of the signing of the protocol in December 1997.
A confidential one telegram The State Department’s October 1997 advisory advised UN Ambassador Mark Hambley to seek a “national security waiver with respect to military activities directly related to peacekeeping,” despite the fact that the federal government and its “defense and training facilities” are the “largest single consumer of Energy” in the USA were.
A 2007 publication by the Brookings Institution suggests that the Pentagon accounts for 93 percent of the total fuel consumption responsible to the US government. However, numerous documents contained in the National Security Archives tranche show that US officials, notably Bill Clinton, have been informed that the true figure is only a fraction of it. This false image was then dished out to the media, legislators, and the public to justify the Pentagon’s emissions exemption.
In a briefing in March 1998 Key White House advisers told those in the Oval Office that the Department of Defense accounts for just 1.4 percent of total carbon emissions, while military operations and training contribute just 0.8 percent. In a State Department paper, two months earlier Questioning domestic criticism of the protocol, it said US military emissions accounted for “less than half a percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions.”
These numbers are utterly absurd when you consider that the Department of Defense used around 30,000 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2006 and an average of 46 billion gallons of fuel per year at the time of the study – more than double of all US civil airlines from 2004 to 2020.
It is clearly impossible to reconcile a commitment to seriously tackling greenhouse gas emissions with a determination to maintain an extensive, global network of trucks, planes and ships. This contradiction becomes one documentwhich aptly summarizes the US approach to Russia with regard to the introduction of a national security exception in the Kyoto Protocol.
“Our delegation would appreciate the support of all members of this body in considering how we can protect world peace while preserving our planet through some sort of national security or emergency regulation,” officials said on October 31, 1997.
“We have an obligation to the world community, to our individual nations, and ultimately to the men and women who serve in our armed forces, to carefully consider how we treat military operations in this Protocol.”
Washington had other means of securing approval for its national security-dominated agenda. From one by Hambley written memo from early December 1997 shows that the Japanese delegates in Kyoto had asked him to reconsider the US position
“We took a quick look at this idea and were not impressed,” said the diplomat.
Therefore, he proposed offering “emission sugar” to Tokyo and the “developing countries” more broadly, to “buy their acceptance”. The same memo details the negotiation sessions, noting that Pentagon officials were directly involved in the talks, and when it came to the waivers, “they carefully orchestrated this issue, which in any case seems very problematic.” .
Another US tactic was to use New Zealand delegate Daryl Dunn to propose the idea of a follow-up process to the Kyoto discussions, so that any agreement would only be preliminary and could be subject to further, future negotiations.
In a separate Memo from Hambley It notes how the US urged Dunn to make this unpopular proposal, and Dunn commented that he was reminded of the popular BBC sitcom ‘Yes, Minister’, “in which the minister who routinely proposed risky or just to do stupid things, was encouraged to do so by his senior advisers, only to return bloodied from the battle.” Dunn, the memo said, “was concerned about becoming such a ‘minister’.”
This combination of bribery, begging and intimidation resulted in a coalition of the willing. Japan and a number of other nations that depend on the US military – including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland – said theirs support for national security exemptions from emissions targets.
However, other Kyoto participants, including China, Russia and even the UK, were less convinced. Hambley despaired in one Memo dated December 5 about “unusually violent attacks” on the US for its efforts to cloak all talks about saving the planet with the ambiguity of national security.
As luck would have it, the Kyoto Committee accepted four days later exemptions, which included joint military efforts between countries, meaning emissions from such operations do not have to be reported as part of national totals. Crucially, this also applies to air travel and “bunker fuels” used by fighter jets, warships and military vehicles outside the country’s borders.
The US clearly prevailed in Kyoto – but even these significant concessions were not enough for certain quarters. When news of the agreed protocols reached the American coast, a cry of indignation went through the ranks of politicians.
A letter written by a group of Republican lawmakers to then-President Bill Clinton in January 1998 argued that “most of our military’s training and operations domestically will fall under the Protocol’s limitations,” thus creating “pressure on the part of the UN to curtail the training and operations that have made our armed forces the best in the world”. Apparently, maintaining Washington’s “full-spectrum dominance” was deemed far more important than trying to save the planet it rules.
This attitude was also found in an extremely critical one valuation of the terms of the protocol by the White House Office of Environmental Initiatives, which stated that “only” multinational and humanitarian military efforts are exempt from reporting. “This will inevitably put pressure on us to limit unilateral military actions like in Grenada, Panama or Libya,” the unnamed author of the document despaired.
The paper from the in-house environmental bureau also offers an extraordinarily candid glimpse into the paranoid mindset of US planners. For example, financial incentives for countries that meet emissions targets have been viewed as an ominous zero-sum game – “a scam” that could send “billions of dollars” to countries like Russia and “rogue states” like Iran, Iraq or Libya, while Washington at the same time goals are imposed that are “too hard” and “not hard enough” for others.
The memo, located in the Clinton Presidential Library, lamented: “Won’t this protocol inevitably compromise US sovereignty?” The author then went all out into the conspiracy theory and asked:
“Won’t we inevitably leave decisions about American energy consumption, and therefore America’s economy, to international bodies dominated by developing countries, perhaps acting in concert with the EU? What verification procedures are in place to ensure other countries are meeting their commitments? How will the protocol be enforced?”
In the end, all American schemes, intrigues, talks and fears were in vain. The Kyoto Protocol came into force in 2005 and expired 15 years later without the US ever ratifying it. In any case, they had been nowhere near able to achieve any of the modest promised goals to which they would have been compelled—entirely of their own free will—if they had signed it.
These documents clearly show that given the choice between global “security” and the continued existence of the planet in anything remotely habitable form, the Pentagon and White House will always choose the latter – at the expense of the environment and human life.
Translated from the English.