Argument: Kyoto regulations on C02 emissions do not improve air-quality

Issue Report: Kyoto Protocol


Alan Keyes. “Why regulating CO2 would be a disaster.” Heartland Institute. 1 May 2001 – Bush and his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, considered regulating CO2 as part of a “multi-pollutant” strategy. In principle, “multi-pollutant” or “integrated” air quality management is a good idea. The uncertainties created by ad hoc, uncoordinated, pollutant-by-pollutant regulations discourage power producers from making long-term investments in new capacity and new technologies, shortchanging both consumers and the environment.

But there is a huge practical difference between coordinating controls on regulated pollutants like sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and mercury, which damage air quality or threaten human health, and expanding federal regulation to encompass CO2, which has zero impact on air quality and is non-toxic at 20 times current concentrations.

Regulating CO2 is a bad idea for several reasons: scientific, economic, and legal. To begin with, CO2 is simply not in the same category as SO2, NOx or mercury. Whatever one may believe about the theory of manmade global warming, CO2 is not an “ambient” air pollutant. It does not foul the air, contribute to asthma or bio-accumulate as a toxin in fish. Indeed, CO2 is plant food, and rising concentrations enhance the growth of most trees, crops and other flora: an environmental benefit.

Charli E. Coon. “Why President Bush Is Right to Abandon the Kyoto Protocol.” Heritage Foundation. May 11, 2001. – Misdirected Objectives. Too much emphasis is placed on carbon dioxide and not enough on other greenhouse gases and heat-trapping substances.

Misdirected Objectives. A study published last year by James Hansen and his colleagues at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies finds that too much attention is being placed on carbon dioxide. 31 Instead, Hansen proposes that reductions in non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases and other heat-trapping substances such as methane, ozone, soot, and aerosols would be a more practical way to address climate change. 32 Hansen notes that emissions from these other greenhouse gases and aerosols are easier to control than carbon dioxide. 33 His suggestion merits serious consideration. As noted in The Washington Post, Hansen’s study “suggests that the sensible course is to move ahead with a strong dose of realism and flexibility.” 34 It should

remind us that climate issues are complex, far from fully understood and open to a variety of approaches. It should serve as a caution to environmentalists so certain of their position that they’re willing to advocate radical solutions, no matter what the economic cost. 35