Reuters reporter plays loose with the facts on Kyoto Protocol

Patrick Gleason Director of State Affairs, Americans for Tax Reform
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The post-mortem analyses of the recently concluded U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa continue to be churned out by pundits and reporters alike. The results have been spun both positively and negatively, yet some of the reporting has fallen short of even being factual.

On Tuesday, Reuters’s David Ljunggren published an article on Canada’s decision to withdraw from an extension of the Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction requirements, alleging that Canada had begun preparing for its withdrawal a decade ago. The article is titled “Analysis: Canada’s Kyoto withdrawal began when Bush bolted,” and Ljunggren starts with the following assertion:

Canada’s widely criticized withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol ends a decade-long saga that began in earnest when former President George W. Bush walked away from the global climate change treaty in 2001.

This is just plain false and as a reporter covering this topic, Ljunggren should know better. Reading his article, one would think that the U.S. did not go along with Kyoto because of George W. Bush, and one would be very wrong to think so.

The fact is that — though no one left-of-center seems willing to admit it — it was President Clinton who backed out of Kyoto. The Institute for Energy Research astutely and most importantly, accurately, sums up the reality:

The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, but President Clinton never sent the treaty to the Senate to be ratified. The obvious reason President Clinton did not send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate is that a few months prior to the final treaty negotiations, the Senate voted 95-0 on a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the main elements of the Protocol.

Like President Clinton, President Bush never asked for the Senate’s consent to the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, environmental groups made the false claim that Bush “withdrew” from the Kyoto Protocol, even though Bush’s actions were precisely the same as Clinton’s — neither ever sent the treaty to the Senate. President Obama has thus far followed the same policy with regard to the Kyoto Protocol as Presidents Clinton and Bush. He is free to send Kyoto to the Senate for ratification, but he has declined to do so.

So there you go. The truth is that President Clinton declined to move forward on efforts to make the U.S. party to Kyoto. This position was continued by Bush and remains in place today because of President Obama. Yet if you only watch MSNBC and only read The New York Times, you will continue to believe that it was George W. Bush who withdrew from Kyoto. I guess ignorance is bliss.

Patrick Gleason is director of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform.