On Fox's Your World, CEI's Horner misled on Kyoto, global warming

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On Fox News' Your World, Chris Horner, counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed falsely that the Clinton administration chose not to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification because it did not consider global warming a "high-profile issue." In fact, Senate Republicans made clear at the time that Clinton would not be able to garner enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty.

On the June 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Chris Horner, counsel for the oil industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed falsely that the Clinton administration chose not to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification because it did not consider global warming a "high-profile issue." In fact, Senate Republicans made clear at the time that Clinton would not be able to garner enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty. In addition, Horner baselessly disputed an assertion by Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder* that severe hurricanes have "gone from 20 percent of the total to 35 percent of the total" in the last 35 years by referencing a study that doesn't address Blackwelder's claim.

Objecting to former President Bill Clinton taking credit for efforts to curb global warming during his presidency, Horner claimed that Clinton "set the U.S. policy, which was [that] for the final three years of his presidency, the U.S. would not seek participation in -- that is ratification of -- Kyoto." Horner made the claim to advance his suggestion that the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty mandating that countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, "was not a high-profile issue or a priority issue for the Clinton administration, like, say, school uniforms. It was not even a low-priority issue, like, say, finding Osama bin Laden."

But, contrary to Horner's assertion, it was in fact Senate Republicans who made clear that they would not ratify the Kyoto treaty. As The Washington Post reported on December 11, 1997, just before the Kyoto agreement was reached, key Senate Republicans declared the treaty "dead on arrival":

The difficulty delegates to the global warming conference in Kyoto encountered in reaching agreement on reducing greenhouse gases is likely to pale beside the trouble Republicans have promised the Clinton administration when it seeks ratification of the newly negotiated international treaty.

As finalized early this morning, Japanese time, the Kyoto accord calls for industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse emissions by 6 percent to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. It left aside until at least next year the contentious issue of how much developing countries would be required to cut their own emissions.

Hours before the final agreement was reached, however, key Senate Republicans declared the accord "dead on arrival," and a leading Democratic supporter urged that the Senate delay a vote in light of its bleak prospects.

The situation remained unchanged nearly two years later, as the Post noted in an April 28, 1999, "Washington Brief": "The Clinton administration signed the framework agreement in November 1998, but staunch opposition in the Senate has kept the White House from submitting the treaty for ratification."

Later, Horner disputed the claim by Blackwelder that "[t]he number of severe Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has gone from 20 percent of the total to 35 percent of the total." Horner retorted that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which he claimed is the "greens' bible" on global warming, "detected no trend in storm developments, severe storm developments," and then reiterated that "the U.N. itself does not say what Brent just said they said." But while Blackwelder did not indicate the source of his claim, he appeared to be referring to a study completed in September 2005 by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), not to the U.N. report. Indeed, according to the NCAR study, Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide have "almost doubled in number" over the last 35 years, in fact going from about 20 percent of the total to 35 percent, as Blackwelder claimed:

Examination of hurricane intensity shows a substantial change in the intensity distribution of hurricanes globally...The number of category 1 hurricanes has remained approximately constant but has decreased monotonically as a percentage of the total number of hurricanes throughout the 35-year period. The trend of the sum of hurricane categories 2 and 3 is small also both in number and percentage. In contrast, hurricanes in the strongest categories (4 + 5) have almost doubled in number (50 per pentad in the 1970s to near 90 per pentad during the past decade) and in proportion (from around 20% to around 35% during the same period).

The IPCC report, which was released in 2001, found that there were "no significant trends" in tropical and extra-tropical storm intensity "over the 20th century," but added that "[c]onflicting analyses make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about changes in storm activity."

From the June 14 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Now, Clinton was warning that the Bush administration is soft on global warming and said that GOP policies on the environment will bring about even more severe storms. Joining me: Brent Blackwelder, right now is president of Friends of the Earth, who says that Clinton has it right, and Chris Horner with the Competitive Enterprise Institute; he is also the author of an upcoming book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming. He says that Clinton is on another planet on this one. So Chris, you are not buying it. Why?

HORNER: Well, not only is his math wrong. I mean, Kyoto was agreed in 1997, but it was Clinton who set the U.S. policy which was for the final three years of is presidency the U.S. would not seek participation in -- that is ratification of -- Kyoto. That's the position that Bush inherited, the position he adopted. Therefore, we need to remind ourselves: Kyoto was not a high-profile issue or a high-priority issue for the Clinton administration, like, say, school uniforms. It was not even a low-priority issue, like, say, finding Osama bin Laden. He has had an epiphany that is seeing what gets you on magazine covers these days or else he's reaffirming what a remarkably irresponsible presidency he had, if, in fact, he believes what he says. I don't believe he believes that.

CAVUTO: Let me focus on this part with you. The Bush administration has been in there, what close to six years. Six years to cause all these hurricanes? Is that what he's saying?

BLACKWELDER: This is Brent Blackwelder, look, Clinton is right and Bush is wrong. We are facing with global warming the most serious problem to confront human civilization to affect all life. One of the predictions of all the peer-reviewed science -- and 99 percent of the peer-review science says we have a serious problem on our hands -- is that we will get more severe weather events, hurricanes being one key example. The number of severe Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has gone from 20 percent of the total to 35 percent. We are getting creamed, and people along the coast are looking at chaos.

HORNER: Yeah, Neil, if I can point something out here. The greens' bible on this thing is the U.N. IPCC report, and they detected no trend in storm developments, severe storm developments. There were only two areas in the world that had any change at all, the Pacific Northwest and the North Atlantic. Well, the North Atlantic happens to bring the most important rain in the world because it abuts New York City and Washington D.C. But the World Meteorological Organization and the U.N. itself does not say what Brent just said they said, and 99 percent of the science does not say what he said.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, I'm not here to debate global warming, gentlemen, and that's an easy area to get sidetracked on. But I think I want to focus, Brent, with you on whether its fair of the former president to essentially say of this president --a Republican -- "See all the storms we are having, your fault." That's a bit extreme isn't it?

BLACKWELDER: Bush has taken us backwards for five straight years, at the time when he really had a mandate to shift our economy to more of a clean-energy basis and set the example for countries like India and China. We are the Saudi Arabia of wind power. We have got in the great plains a wonderful opportunity to produce clean energy, put money in the energy dollars right at home and revitalize rural America, and we are not taking advantage of it. We are letting countries like Denmark lead the way on wind power. We are letting automobile manufacturers like Toyota and Honda take the lead.

[crosstalk]

HORNER: Denmark has changed their mind, for one, and the U.S. is the third-largest producer of wind power. What we are the Saudi Arabia of is coal. We have set the tone for China, India, South Korea, those countries that are free riders, exempt from Clinton's Kyoto that he ran from, as did Bush did rightfully. And the president has created a new policy that China said yes to, India said yes to, and guess what, the European Union replicated it in two separate bilateral agreements. Bush has been proven right. Even by our European friends.

Correction: 

In the original version of this item, the name of Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder was misspelled. Media Matters for America regrets the error.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Chris Horner
Show/Publication
Your World w/ Neil Cavuto
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