National Security and Military Policy Issues Involved in the Kyoto Treaty

The Global Warming Crisis

In recent prepared Congressional testimony, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman said that the Department of Defense would be a leader in “addressing one of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet today ? global climate change.” Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat outlined a host of disasters that will befall the planet if action against global warming is delayed, and Vice President Gore, who spearheads Administration environmental policy, once called climate change “the most serious threat we have ever faced.”

Defeating the climate-change threat will be both a long-term and costly affair, although the Administration contends all the measures it has and will propose are simply cost-effective insurance policies against dangerous global warming. However, if global warming is, in fact, “the most serious threat we have ever faced,” one should not quibble about cost, since the very survival of the planet would appear to depend upon a global response to the challenge. What is more, all sectors of society would need to contribute to a solution, and this would certainly include the Department of Defense.

In other words, if one grants the Administration?s basic premise ? that global warming is a threat to our survival equal to that faced in World War II or in the stand-off with the Soviet Union ? there remains little or no justification for objecting to comprehensive measures and comprehensive sacrifices to defeat the climate change menace. If America?s military establishment must contribute to this battle by further downsizing, or by submitting to various restrictions on its training and operations, that would be a small price to pay, given the degree of risk the Administration argues we face were we to hold back or take only half-measures against planet-wide warming. Considering the cascade of calamities that global warming might bring ? coastal flooding, spreading diseases, drought, and famine ? it must be granted equal status to national security as a call against our resources if, in fact, the Administration?s reading of this problem is correct.

There is considerable doubt, however, that global warming presents anywhere near the degree of peril the Vice President and others believe it does. And even if the most pessimistic scenarios proved accurate, they are based on a time frame that often exceeds 100 years, and so one can reasonably question the immediacy of the threat. Public policy normally demands that a problem be serious, certain, and soon to demand action. Climate change meets none of these tests.

A brief review of the complexities underlying greenhouse warming concerns shows there is little evidence to support immediate and drastic actions to curb global warming.

Global warming anxiety arises largely from the coincidence of a 1 degree F rise in global temperature over the last 100 years and an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide largely from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. According to global-warming theory, CO2 ? along with other man-made gases such as methane ? has already enhanced the earth?s natural greenhouse effect, and will continue to do so to the point where the planet experiences an uncontrollable temperature rise. Preventing serious climate change, so the theory goes, means reducing the amount of man-made greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere — in effect, reducing globally the use of energy.

Global warming came to the public?s attention in 1988 when the Director of NASA?s Goddard Institute, James Hansen, told a Congressional hearing that he was 99% certain the warming over the last 100 years was caused by human activities. The news value of Hansen?s statement was enhanced by the fact that he testified on one of the hottest days of the summer during one of the hottest years in decades. Environmental groups quickly adopted climate change as one of their major agenda items and then-Senator Gore became a tireless promoter of climate change disaster scenarios.

But in order to believe these scenarios, one must first adopt a faith in the computer models that have generated them. These so-called General Circulation Models attempt to mimic our climate system by using mathematical simulation of the earth and its oceans and atmosphere. Unfortunately, the mechanism of our climate is so complex that reliable simulations are as yet impossible to achieve. Clouds, for example, far outweigh man-made CO2 as an effect on climate and yet the models come nowhere near being able to predict what type of clouds will form under what circumstance, or even whether they would enhance or diminish global warming. The models do a poor job predicting the climate changes we have already experienced. If they are incapable of accounting for the past, how well can they do predicting the future?

There are other reasons to question the basis of global warming fears.

  • There is a scientific consensus of sorts on global warming. Most scientists agree that the earth has warmed over the last century by about one degree F (they disagree over the reason for the warming) and that man-made C02 will probably contribute to some warming (they disagree over how much). This consensus is reflected in reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says that a human-caused global warming 100 years from now might be as high as 3.5 degrees C ? a significant increase ? or as low as 1 degree C ? an insignificant temperature rise. Although this represents agreement within the scientific community, it is entirely irrelevant for policymakers, since the range of predicted global warming is between important and unimportant.
  • Significantly, the IPCC estimates have dropped rather significantly over the years — from a mid-range of 3.3 degrees C in 1990 to just 1-2 degrees C in 1995. As the models have improved, global warming predictions continue to decrease.
  • Temperature measurements taken from NASA satellites from 1978 to91997 show no global temperature increase at all, while the climate models predicted about one-half-a-degree C rise over this period.
  • The predicted warming that is driving today?s policymaking will not take place fully until early in the 22nd century. No one really expects that energy production, transportation, and other energy intensive activities will remain tied to the same technology for the next 100 years. We have time to wait and to allow both science and technology to mature before committing ourselves to policies that impact global economic growth.

Nevertheless, in Kyoto, Japan last December the Administration committed the U.S. to a plan that would require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels, a goal that would put us back at 1979 emission levels. This commitment went considerably beyond the Administration?s original objective ? reductions to, but not below, 1990 levels. More of a problem than this great level of reduction was the fact that the developing world, especially China, India, and Brazil, was not a part of the treaty — a notable failure, since as these nations industrialize they will increasingly become the world?s major emitters of greenhouse gases. Without the participation of the developing world in a climate change treaty, reductions made by other nations will be quickly offset by increases in the developing world.

For example a 50% reduction in current U.S. emissions would reduce the world?s total emissions by about 600 million tons of carbon per year, but that reduction would be more than counterbalanced by China, which is expected to increase its emissions by some 600 million tons by 2025.

For this reason, in the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, the Senate made approval of the Kyoto Treaty contingent on full participation by the developing world.

Needless to say, the Kyoto Protocol has generated considerable debate. Its cost to the American and global economies, its equity in terms of which nations are included in the emissions reductions plan, its implications for U.S. sovereignty, and its scientific grounding have all been raised as potential problems in the accord.

One component of the Administration?s commitment under Kyoto that has not received sufficient attention is the manner in which military forces are treated as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.The remainder of this paper reviews this issue.

National Security Issues Arising Out of the Kyoto Protocol

The United States emits about 20% of the world?s total carbon dioxide. Of those nations currently involved in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the structure under which the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated) the U.S. is credited with over 36% of the world?s total CO2 emissions. Only the Russian Federation comes close to this figure with some 17% of the world?s total carbon emissions. Most of these emissions result from America?s dependence on fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, for energy. The Federal Government is the largest energy user within the United States, and the Department of Defense is the largest energy user within the Federal Government, accounting for some 70% of the government?s total.

For this reason alone, it is not surprising that the Clinton Administration would be anxious to include the military in any plans for meeting greenhouse gas reduction commitments agreed to under the Framework Convention. To exclude the nation?s largest single energy user from the sacrifices asked of all other Americans would make reaching its overall emissions goals more difficult and open the Administration up to criticism for showing favoritism and not taking the problem of global warming seriously enough. What is more, the Pentagon has reduced its energy use (and so its CO2 emissions) since the baseline year of 1990, making its inclusion in the nation?s overall emissions total advantageous to the prospects for meeting U.S. commitments made in Kyoto.

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman noted recently that the military had “reduced its emissions, when measured by energy consumption, by more than 20% since 1990.” Overall energy use, she noted, was down at DoD facilities by some 15% between 1985 and 1996.

DoD is an attractive component of the Administration?s global warming policy not only for what it might in the future contribute to meeting Kyoto reduction goals, but for the emissions reductions it has already taken, due primarily to post-cold war downsizing. Further downsizing can only increase the Pentagon?s contribution to solving “the greatest environmental challenge facing our planet today?”

Recognizing the contributions the Pentagon might be asked to make in the war against warming, Secretary of Defense Cohen included the following in his 1997 annual report to Congress:

America?s national security requires that its military forces remain ready. While global climate change may be a serious threat to the nation?s long-term interests, there are other threats we must not forget. We must not sacrifice our national security or our ability to offer humanitarian assistance to those in need to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We must not see this as an issue of being able to achieve either national security or protection of the global climate. The United States must pursue both objectives.

To accomplish this, DoD strongly recommends that the United States insist on a national security provision in the climate change Protocol now being negotiated.

The Secretary?s vague reference to a “national security provision” was made concrete in a draft DoD proposal for a broad exemption from emissions reductions that appeared in the trade press. The draft noted that

Each Annex A and B Party shall exclude from its measurement of anthropogenic emissions by sources any emissions attributable to military tactical or strategic systems used for military operations in support of national or collective security, humanitarian activities, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, or United Nations, NATO, and other multinational actions and any such emissions attributable to military tactical or strategic systems used in training to maintain readiness for conducting military operations.

There is no telling to what extent this draft provision reflected a consensus in the Pentagon with respect its need to be excluded from CO2 emissions restrictions. It sets out, however, what appears to be a complete military exemption from greenhouse gas emissions limits. The draft includes multilateral operations such as NATO-and UN-sanctioned activities, but it also includes actions related very broadly to national security, which would appear to comprehend all forms of unilateral military actions and training for such actions. The proposed exemption would not cover DoD facilities and non-tactical vehicles, areas, as noted above, in which the Pentagon has already made significant cuts in energy use.

A background paper from the Pentagon?s environmental office made public in the trade press, and apparently prepared to bolster the claim for a blanket exemption, looks at the impact on readiness of a 10% reduction in fuel, which, the analysis notes, is equivalent to a 10 % cut in greenhouse gas emissions. As published, the paper does not include a detailed justification for the 10% figure. Still as a benchmark for reductions that might be required of the military, the analysis is instructive.

  • For the Army, a 10% reduction in fuel use “would reduce OPTEMPO ? to a level that would downgrade unit readiness and require up to six additional weeks to prepare and deploy. Strategic deployment schedules would be missed placing operations at risk.”
  • For the Navy, this 10% reduction would cut some 2000 steaming days per year from training and operations for deployed ships, causing cancellation of both bi-lateral and multi-lateral exercises. And since reductions would not be taken from ships and aircraft deployed in trouble spots, other units would be required to take proportionately greater cuts, meaning less training and “a potentially significant threat to crew safety.”
  • In the Air Force, a 10% reduction in fuel use “would result in the loss of over 210,000 flying hours per year.” Readiness would be reduced “to the point [that the Air Force] would be incapable of meeting all the requirements of the national Military Strategy.”

One can always fault such analysis as worst-case overstatement and special pleading. Nevertheless, as the report itself points out, because this is a static analysis, the true impact of energy use reductions on national security are difficult to gage. Future threats, unforeseen contingencies, chance, fluctuations in fuel prices, inter-service rivalries, and dozens of other unknowns complicate any calculation of how mandated greenhouse gas reductions will influence military readiness in the years to come. It would be difficult to conclude, however, that cuts in the range discussed by this DoD report would be anything but destructive of preparedness and morale. The analysis concludes that a 10% reduction in fuel use would “represent a serious threat to national security.”

How did the military fare in Kyoto? We are told that the Pentagon achieved “everything” it “outlined as necessary to protect military operations and our national security.” Three broad exemptions or areas of flexibility for the military from the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas limits were at first discussed by the Administration and presented as comprehensive in terms of what DoD requested, although later statements by Administration officials (discussed below) served to confuse the exemption question. According to Undersecretary Eizenstat, who headed the U.S. delegation in Kyoto, “every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got. This is self-defense, peacekeeping, humanitarian relief.” If this is in fact the case, the Pentagon ultimately rejected or was compelled by the Administration to reject the previously discussed draft analysis and recommendations of exemption.

Despite the abundant disorder (outlined in full below) that now surrounds Administration policy with respect to the Pentagon?s role in future greenhouse gas reduction efforts, it is best to begin with a review of the initial understanding offered to Congress by the Administration of precisely what kinds of military operations would be exempt from Kyoto-agreed-upon limits.

The most important exemption for the military from the Administration?s point of view is that concerning multilateral operations pursuant to the UN Charter or consistent with the Charter. For example, according to Undersecretary Eizenstat, Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Somalia, –all UN-sanctioned operations — would clearly not be counted against US greenhouse gas limits, but operations such as Grenada and Panama, which we deemed to be consistent with the charter, would also be exempt from the Kyoto limits. This exemption is critical for the Administration because it has difficulty conceiving of military operations in the current environment that would not be multilateral. Deputy Secretary Goodman argues that strictly unilateral military operations are “quite rare” in “today?s day and age,” and in February 11 testimony Secretary Eizenstat does not even seem to consider such engagements as a reasonable option, since they are never mentioned. Indeed, since he contends that “everything” the military needs to “protect military operations and our national security” was achieved at Kyoto, Undersecretary Eizenstat clearly did not regard an exemption for unilateral operations important or relevant.

The second area subject to exemption is emissions from fuel sold for international maritime or aviation, so-called bunker fuels. According to Deputy Secretary Goodman, this exemption covers fuel used by our Air Force and Navy when operating in international waters and means our allies will not have fuel sold to our forces automatically counted against their national greenhouse gas limits.

The third area is not an exemption, but rather allows flexibility for whether emissions associated with overseas training of U.S. forces are charged against the host country?s account or that of the nation using the fuel. This flexibility is really quite favorable to the host country since American force structure has shrunk since the baseline year, 1990, and host countries can take advantage of the lower emission levels that have resulted.

The Administration believes it won a victory at Kyoto by avoiding language in the protocol that would dictate how limits were to be achieved with respect to domestic military operations, training, facilities and nontactical vehicles. Domestic implementation policy is not a part of the Kyoto Protocol, however there is little doubt that domestic military operations, training, facilities and nontactical vehicles will contribute to the agreed upon national limit.

Deputy Secretary Goodman emphasized in her prepared statement for a March 11th hearing before Sen. Inhofe?s readiness subcommittee that the Pentagon does not “seek special treatment” and “can and should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions ? in the same way the rest of the nation will be called on to do.” DoD wishes to be a full partner in the battle against global climate change.

Congressional leaders, however, had a variety of problems with the global warming accord agreed to in Kyoto and worried that inclusion of the military in efforts to limit greenhouse gases could encumber the nation?s ability to execute national strategy. The core of the problem for Congress in terms of the national security implications of the climate change accord appears at this writing to be the lack of clarity or candor on the Administration?s parts over exactly what it and the Pentagon signed on to in Kyoto.

Implementation of Kyoto without Senate ratification of the treaty tops the list of concerns in Congress, especially in the minds of Republican members. In turn, the Senate has made it clear that until developing nations, especially China, Brazil, and India, are included in the binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions the treaty would not be ratified. Senator Biden added the issue of exactly how the emissions trading mechanism would work to the concern over full participation of the developing world when he told Undersecretary Eizenstat “I?ve been here so long ? the truth of the matter is absent dealing with [these] two major issues?, there will be no ratification of this treaty.”

At this point in the political struggle over Kyoto then, national security concerns appear to be outweighted in Congress?s mind by the fundamental concern over the accord?s equity, and by suspicions that the Clinton Administration will attempt to implement the treaty through regulatory or other means before or even instead of submitting it to the Senate for formal ratification.

Still, it is likely that the ambiguities over how defense-related matters are treated in the overall effort to meet Kyoto?s steep energy reduction goals will become a major stumbling block to treaty ratification.

Initial confusion arose over the precise scope of the exemption the military leadership requested prior to Kyoto. As noted above, Undersecretary Eizenstat argued that the military was granted “everything” they need to “protect national security.” Senator Hagel, apparently assuming that a blanket exemption from Kyoto?s energy limits would in fact be the only thing that could satisfy the military, asked the Undersecretary to explain how an exemption for only multilateral operations could meet all military requirements to protect national security. Their exchange raises questions about the Pentagon?s participation in Kyoto decisionmaking on military matters.

Sen. Hagel: So in essence there is a blanket exemption for the United States military here?

Mr. Eizenstat: There is the kind of exemption that they wanted, yes, sir.

Sen. Hagel: Does that mean a blanket exemption? Did they ask for a blanket exemption?

Mr. Eizenstat: They asked for what we gave them. That?s what they asked for. I?m not trying ?

Sen. Hagel: They asked for what you gave them?

Mr. Eizenstat: — to be coy. We asked them, What do you need?, and this is what they told us, and this is what we ?

Sen. Hagel: So if I would ask any of our commanders, they would give me the same answer?

Mr. Eizenstat: Well, if they were the same ones that were with me they certainly would, and I hope that that is the case. But ?

Sen. Hagel: You hope that?s the case ?

Mr. Eizenstat: Yes, sir, because ?

Sen. Hagel: I want a little more precise answer than that, Mr. Secretary.

At the conclusion of this exchange, Sen. Hagel requested written clarification of 1) what the military requested in terms of an exemption from the protocol?s limits; 2) who within the military made the request and 3) in what way, if any, did the final accord deviate from the military?s request? At this writing, the Senator has yet to receive the requested clarification

There is strong evidence that at least some in the military were worried about Kyoto since, prior to Kyoto, they had in hand draft language for what amounted to a blanket military exemption from greenhouse gas limits.

Interestingly, the exemption issue was not at first even raised up by Republicans, but rather Senator Kerry raised the issue when he asked Mr. Eizenstat to comment on the claim made in a letter signed by a number of former national security officials including (Richard Burt and Dick Cheney) that Kyoto would complicate military operations politically and diplomatically because it did not exempt unilateral actions. Here Eizenstat emphasizes that any action that we take that is pursuant to the right of self-defense under the UN charter is exempt and he explicitly includes the Grenada operation within this category.

Still, the distinction between multilateral and unilateral, while helpful in limiting the military?s exposure to treaty restrictions, leaves open huge areas of uncertainty regarding which military activities will or will not be counted against the national emissions total, activities such as domestic operations and training.

This already cloudy issue was further complicated when Deputy Secretary Goodman claimed in a March 11th hearing that, from the Administration?s point of view, domestic military operations were exempt from the Kyoto limits, a novel interpretation given the language of the protocol which exempts only operations undertaken in a multilateral context.

According to Ms. Goodman, “the administration has decided that it will oppose efforts to impose emissions limits or constraints on domestic military operations and training.” Senator Inhofe requested clarification and Mr. Goodman said that this was “new news” and that “I did not have that information at the time I submitted my written statement?.” It was not clear on what grounds the Administration would oppose emissions limits on our domestic training, whether this opposition would lead to amendments to the treaty or whether Ms. Goodman thought the other parties to the treaty might object.

This opposition was not only “new news” to the Senator, but “good news.” Nonetheless, he requested authoritative documentation of the policy and was promised a memo from the National Security Council. As of this writing, no such memo has been received by the Senator.

This noteworthy reinterpretation of the treaty was followed immediately in the Deputy Secretary?s testimony by an even more puzzling discussion of the Kyoto restraints as they apply to the military. After reading the exact language from the protocol, Senator Inhofe asked Ms. Goodman, if there is “an interpretation of this that would lead you to feel comfortable that that applies to not just multi-national operations, but also just us, if we should get involved? Let?s just say, for example, if we had to go into Iraq by ourselves or we were training for such a thing.” Ms. Goodman offers the following response:

Yes, Mr. Chairman, our view on ? if you?re asking what about if we undertake unilateral operators, which is ? actually, in today?s day and age, is quite rare. Even, as I said, we consider Panama and Grenada to be a multilateral operation conduct pursuant to the UN Charter. Our view is that if we were to undertake, for some reason, a completely unilateral operation, we do not need an international treaty to tell the United States how to operate unilaterally. This is a matter of United States sovereignty.

The Deputy Secretary?s statement is perhaps true, but irrelevant since the question is not whether the treaty would directly dictate how we managed a unilateral operation or training for that operation, but rather whether the greenhouse gas emissions expended in that operation would count against the U.S. national total and so be subject to Kyoto-agreed limits. But the very idea of an actual U.S. military operation being undertaken without some kind of international cooperation or approval is so foreign to Deputy Secretary Goodman that the she seems simply to miss the Senators point. In a follow up answer, Ms. Goodman says, “I?m hard-pressed to even think of a case of a military operation that has been conducted that would be defined in such a narrow way as to be unilateral.”

The Deputy Secretary?s interpretation of the Kyoto accord can only be termed bizarre. Lacking further high-level clarification of the national security aspects of the protocol, we are left with an entirely open-ended treaty whose meaning seems flexible to a dangerous degree.

And among the many confusions that have arisen in this atmosphere not the least concerns the issue of American sovereignty. In fact, the sovereignty issue threatens to become a red herring for the Administration as it attempts to divert attention away from the subtle, but real, dangers to American national security contained in the Kyoto accord. Clarity on this issue is essential if genuine security concerns are to be separated from both real and exaggerated concerns about American sovereignty.

As discussed above, national security issues arise in the context of the Kyoto Protocol because the protocol itself exempts multilateral military operations “pursuant to the United Nations Charter,” but requires that “other operations shall be included in the national emissions totals?.” Now it is certainly the case that international bodies set up to administer the treaty would have a role in decisions surrounding what missions fell within the Kyoto limits. But they clearly would not have a veto over these operations, although there would inescapably be new diplomatic and poltical pressures that would come to play a role in decisonmaking on U.S. military deployments. There is no direct challenge to sovereignty, however, because the U.S. could engage in whatever actions it chose, so long as it was willing to accept the greenhouse penalty that would be charged against the national emissions total. The issue is not sovereignty, the issue is whether or not the U.S. wishes to agree to a treaty that imposes novel political and diplomatic restraint on military action and training.

Focusing on the potential mischief international bureaucrats might play in executing national security strategy misses the point on two counts. First, the bureaucrats would have no authority to prevent American action, unilateral or multilateral. And second, the real restraint on military action and training will more likely come from domestic pressure groups arguing that some planned military action would be unjust, immoral, and illegal because it would threaten to expend so much energy that the U.S. might be unable to meet its commitment to the Kyoto greenhouse gas limits. Along with the War Powers Act, the ghosts of Vietnam, the fears of loss of life, calls for giving diplomacy “one more chance,” international pressures, and other impediments to the use of military power, or to even the credible threat of force, one might now add the “greenhouse restraint.”

How Kyoto can Impinge on America?s National Security

Apparently, the potential for harm to American defense policy, and to our ability to project power around the global, was not taken seriously enough by the Administration during its negotiations in Kyoto. A brief summary of the ways in which national security may be impaired by the Kyoto treaty demonstrates the need for fundamental and prompt action by the Administration and Congress to correct this deeply flawed accord.

  1. The very ambiguity that now surrounds the meaning of this protocol with respect to the military?s use of energy is an open invitation to mischief. Hostile nations will read this treaty in ways most likely to hamstring American military power. It is probable that every movement our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard — including training exercises within the United States — will become the subject of debate and controversy on the grounds that greenhouse gas use was improperly accounted for, or was improperly reported, or not reported in a timely fashion, or not reported at all, or should be counted against the nation?s national total, or should be counted against another nation?s total and not ours, and on and on. Unless we have a clear picture ourselves of our obligations under this treaty, we will be subject to endless negotiation and discussion over every tank maneuver and ship deployment. The treaty presents a world of nightmares to the U.S. military.
  2. Political pressures, however, are not the only kinds of interference the military needs to fear if it becomes entangled in the Kyoto environmental net. It is worth contemplating the possibility that direct legal action could be taken against our armed forces by either foreign governments, corporations or by non governmental organizations. Whether through the international court of justice or through a foreign government?s legal system, the military could be sued for violating Kyoto greenhouse gas limits if it somehow tripped up in the way it reported its emissions, or in some other way failed to comply with the treaty. Since the Protocol is itself so ambiguous, the options for falling into some arguable violation are almost endless and the military is particularly vulnerable to hostile legal action of the sort discussed because it operates globally.
  3. The Administration?s belief that the exemptions in the treaty for multilateral operations pursuant to the UN Charter are sufficient to cover virtually all conceivable cases, including controversial engagements such as Panama and Grenada, is at best naïve. The Panama operation, for example, was denounced by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a “unilateral” and “go-it-alone” action. Foreign reaction was even harsher. Does the Administration really believe that there would not have been demands for imposition of the Kyoto greenhouse gas restraints on these operations had Kyoto been in effect at the time? What is more, greenhouse restraints would surely have come into play in the Panama case long before the first shots were fired. Planners would have had to calculate how fuel use connected to the operation would figure into the nation?s overall greenhouse gas budget and to contend with domestic and international pressure to hold fire else they further contribute to greenhouse warming.
  4. Unless the Administration or Congress acts quickly to denounce the pernicious aspects of this greenhouse protocol and to clarify precisely the conditions under which CO2 emissions during military operations might be counted against the U.S. national greenhouse gas limit, it is likely that we will be compelled to adhere to the protocol despite the fact that it has not be ratified by the Senate. It is almost inevitable that a bureaucracy will be established within the Pentagon to monitor it compliance with the accord, regardless of its status in the Senate. Indeed, it is more than likely that an entirely new national security bureaucracy similar in reach to that established to monitor arms control will draw lines and establish procedures that will offer new constraints to the legitimate exercise of American power.
  5. The utter lack of verification procedures in the treaty ignores the lessons learned in decades of arms control negotiations. There are legitimate concerns over exactly how one might verify such a pact and to wonder if it is inherently unverifiable. But the question of how one verifies such a treaty cannot be answered until the idea of verification itself is taken seriously.  The protocol undermines international stability by creating mechanisms which, in effect, penalize the U.S. for being a global military power.
  6. As the only nation capable of maintaining an environment in the world that allows free governments to prosper and creates the kind of stability necessary for a growth in international commerce, the U.S. is compelled to sustain a global military presence. Kyoto imposes a greenhouse tax on that military presence which can only serve to weaken its influence.

Each of these five impediments to the functioning of American national security policy is compound by a troubling fact ? the Administration sees Kyoto as only the beginning of a sustained effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Secretary Eizenstat has noted that Kyoto is “only one step in a long process,” and one scientific enthusiast for global warming regulations noted “it might take another 30 Kyotos over the next century” to really control human-induced climate change.

Combined with the many incentives to use the military as a primary source for achieving greenhouse gas reductions, the first-step nature of Kyoto suggests long-term serious problems for U.S. national security, and that the problems reviewed in this White Paper are likely to get worse not better.


  1. The Administration must clarify its understanding of how the Kyoto Protocol treats military operations. It should comply with the several requests for clarification of the treaty from Congress and it should provide detailed explanations for how military operations and domestic training that are unilateral in nature will be counted against the U.S. national total for greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Regardless of how the Administration finally interprets this protocol, the Senate should insist on a blanket exemption in the Kyoto protocol for all military operations, including those that are entirely unilateral, before it gives its advice and consent to the treaty.
  3. The military must be provided protection against legal action for failing to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. We should not allow our national security to be compromised by the possibility that military actions, or even training exercises, would become caught in legal battles over greenhouse gas emissons


The threat of serious man-made climate change is too tentative and uncertain to claim equal status with existing and future threats to America?s national security. Inclusion of military operations in a climate change treaty is inconsistent with the international obligations of our military forces.

View the COMPASS Letter to President Clinton

Presented May 18, 1998, Conference on American Sovereignty and Security at Risk co-sponsored by the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Committee to Preserve American Security and Sovereignty.

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