The amount of paranoid and aggressive American backdoor bullying in negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol, a historic 1990s deal that required practically every nation in the globe to limit greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to avert the advent of global warming, has been revealed by declassified data published by the United States National Security Archive. The declassified papers show how the US abused climate change agenda to preserve its military power.
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The Pentagon, in particular, was free from emissions restrictions, according to Washington. After all, according to study released in 2019 by Durham and Lancaster Universities, the US military is “one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2 than most countries.” It would be the world’s 47th greatest greenhouse gas generator if it were a country.
Still, President Joe Biden has proclaimed climate change to be the greatest threat to national security, though a skeptic may argue that the actual concern is that environmental degradation will result in a modest reduction in the US defense budget, which was $768 billion last year alone. That was definitely the situation in the months leading up to the signing of the Protocol in December 1997.
Despite admitting that the US government and its “defense installations and training operations” were the “single biggest user of energy,” a highly classified State Department cable (read below) from late 1997 informed UN Ambassador Mark Hambley to pursue a “national security exemption relating to military activities that are directly in support of peacekeeping.”
According to a report published by the Brookings Institution in 2007, the Pentagon was accountable for 93 percent of all US government fuel usage. Several papers in the National Security Archive batch, however, suggest that US officials, including Bill Clinton, were advised that the genuine number was a fraction of that. This deceptive picture was subsequently used to explain the Pentagon’s emission waiver to the press, lawmakers, and the general public.
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For instance, key White House aides told an Oval Office resident in March 1998 that the Department of Defense is responsible for only 1.4 percent of overall carbon emissions, with military activities and training accounting for only 0.8 percent. However, a two-month-old State Department paper addressing domestic critiques of the Protocol said US military emissions “amount to less than one-half of one percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions.”
These statistics are ludicrous, considering that the Department of Defense used about 30,000 gigawatt hours of power per year in 2006 and 46 billion gallons of fuel per year on average at the time of the study — upwards of twice all US civilian aircraft between 2004 and 2020.
Obviously, a commitment to significantly addressing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be reconciled with a desire to retain a vast global network of trucks, aircraft, and ships. In a paper outlining US efforts to Russia on developing a national security bypass in the Kyoto Protocol, this contradiction-in-terms is clearly summarized.
“Our delegation would appreciate the support of all members of this body in examining how we can protect world peace while preserving our planet through some kind of national security or national emergency provision,” officials stated on October 31, 1997. “We have an obligation to the world community, our individual nations, and ultimately to the men and women who serve in our military forces to carefully consider how we address military operations in this Protocol.”
Washington had other options for securing support for its national security agenda. Japanese delegates in Kyoto had requested Hambley to reassess the US position, according to a letter written by the ambassador in early December 1997. “We looked at this idea briefly and were not impressed,” the diplomat writes. As a result, he advocated that Tokyo and other “developing countries” be offered “emissions carrots” to “buy their acceptance.”
The very same email goes into depth about the negotiating discussions, emphasizing that Pentagon personnel were attending and also that, when it came to the exemptions, they “have carefully orchestrated this issue which, in any case, looks very problematic.”
Another strategy used by the US was to utilize Daryl Dunn, a New Zealand representative, to inject the idea of a follow-on process into the Kyoto deliberations, effectively making any agreement just provisional and susceptible to future negotiation.
In a different memo, Hambley describes how the US pressured Dunn into making this extremely divisive proposal, and Dunn compared it to the renowned BBC sitcom ‘Yes, Minister,’ “in which the Minister, who routinely proposed to undertake risky or merely stupid endeavors, was encouraged to do so by his senior advisors only to return from the battle in bloodied form.” Dunn “was concerned about becoming the Minister”, according to the document.
Bribing, begging, and bullying culminated in the formation of a cooperative coalition. Japan, as well as a number of other countries that rely on the US military, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland, have indicated their backing for national security exemptions from emission standards.
Other Kyoto signatories, such as China, Russia, and even the United Kingdom, were skeptical. In a December 5th memo, Hambley expressed sorrow at “unusually bitter attacks” leveled at the US over its attempts to veil all discussion of preserving the world in national security terminology.
But, as fate would have it, the Kyoto committee approved exemptions four days later that covered collaborative military actions between countries, allowing emissions from such operations to be excluded from national totals. This included “bunker fuels” used by fighter planes, warships, and military equipment operating outside of national borders.
In Kyoto, the United States was evidently having its way — but even these big compromises were not enough for some. Dissent seeped across the political ranks as word of the agreed-upon protocols arrived on American shores.
“The vast bulk of our military’s domestic training and operations will fall under the Protocol’s limits,” according to a letter sent by a collective of Republican lawmakers to then-President Bill Clinton in January 1998, which could “generate pressure from the UN to curtail the training and operations that have made our armed forces second to none.” Maintaining Washington’s “full spectrum dominance” was evidently deemed far more important than saving the world it dominates.
This approach is reflected in a very critical assessment of the Protocol’s wording by the White House Office of Environmental Initiatives, which observes that it “only” exempts “multinational and humanitarian” military actions from reporting. “That will inevitably put pressure on us to limit unilateral military action, such as in Grenada, Panama or Libya,” the anonymous document’s author laments.
The study from the in-house environment office also provides a realistic look into the obsessive attitude of US planners. Monetary benefits for nations satisfying emissions goals, for instance, were regarded as a nefarious, zero-sum game in which “billions of dollars” might be diverted to nations like Russia and “rogue nations” like Iran, Iraq, or Libya, while also pressuring Washington to satisfy objectives which were “too tough” on some and “not tough enough” on others.
“Won’t this Protocol inevitably come to impair US sovereignty?” laments the memo, which may be seen in the Clinton Presidential Library. The author then went full conspiracy theory, asking, “Won’t we inevitably be turning over decisions about American energy usage, and therefore the American economy, to international bodies dominated by the developing countries, perhaps acting in concert with the EU? What verification procedures are there to ensure that other countries honor their obligations? How will the Protocol be enforced?”
The whole of America’s planning, scheming, schmoozing, and anguish was for naught in the end. Even if the US had been a member, the Kyoto Protocol went into operation in 2005 and ended 15 years later without the US ever finalising it or even getting close to fulfilling any of the modest, hypothetical targets it would have been forced – wholly voluntarily – to try to meet.
The Pentagon and the White House will always chose global ‘security’ over the planet’s continued survival in a reasonably habitable state, as demonstrated by these papers, at the price of the environment and human life.
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