Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back to Climate Policy

After a few months of preoccupation with other projects - writing conference papers and revising book chapters - I returned today to my long-suffering climate policy book, trying desperately to pick up where I left off - on Chapter 4's history of the evolution of climate policy in the US. I had left off in 1994, the year when the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change took legal effect and Republican majorities in the US took over both houses of Congress for the first time in nearly a half-century. Surprisingly, the 104th Congress - the one with the "Contract with America" - did not show much interest in the climate issue. But as the Kyoto Protocol entered final negotiations in 1997, the 105th Congress became very interested indeed. And it wasn't just the Republicans who were unhappy with the way the Kyoto Protocol was shaping up.

Even before the Kyoto negotiations were complete, the Senate preemptively declared that it would not ratify the Protocol, voting 95-0 in favor of a resolution to that effect co-sponsored by Democratic Robert  Byrd and (moderate) Republican Chuck Hagel. As we know, this resolution did not derail the Kyoto negotiations; nor did it prevent President Obama from signing the Kyoto Protocol. But it did ensure that President Obama would not (a) bother presenting the Protocol to the Senate for ratification and (b) seek to push implementing legislation through Congress. Domestic climate policy - at least at the federal level - remained virtually a non-starter from then until the end of the Bush Administration.

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