Kyoto will impose large costs and yield few benefits

Bjorn Lomborg argues that Kyoto makes no economic sense: It would impose $5 trillion in costs worldwide but yield only $2 trillion in benefits. So long as Kyoto's costs exceed its benefits, countries like China and India will have no incentive to participate. Furthermore, critics believe that Kyoto will do little to reduce global temperatures. Senator James Inhofe, a critic of the treaty, explains:

Dr. Tom Wigley, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, found that if the Kyoto Protocol were fully implemented by all signatories—now I will note here that this next point assumes that the alarmists' science is correct, which of course it is not—if Kyoto were fully imple--mented it would reduce temperatures by a mere 0.07 degrees Celsius by 2050, and 0.13 degrees Celsius by 2100. What does this mean? Such an amount is so small that ground-based thermometers cannot reliably measure it.13

Worse still, Kyoto will do little to reduce the emissions that have been blamed for global warming. At best, the treaty would merely slow the rate at which emissions are increasing because cuts by industrialized countries, which are subject to emissions limits, will be offset by emissions from countries that are exempt.

In any event, there are better investments than a crash program to get emissions down to the Kyoto targets. Lomborg considers it both more effective and more humane to help the developing world adapt to global warming. For example, assuming that global warming will melt the world's glaciers, it is not expected to happen for at least 50 years. Thus it makes more sense to invest in better water-storage capability for the long term than to meet short-term emissions reduction targets that will not stop the glaciers from melting. Lomborg adds that there are a host of investments that offer a better return than reducing emissions now. The economists who took part in his Copenhagen Consensus Center concluded that stopping the spread of diseases, providing the poor with better food and water, and eliminating trade barriers that drive up the price of necessities, were all "very good" opportunities—investments whose benefits exceeded their costs. By contrast, meeting the Kyoto targets was judged a "bad" opportunity.

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