Kyoto Protocols: Putting the Cart Before the Horse?
Today marks the day the Kyoto Protocols take effect. Designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, its ultimate effectiveness is in question as China's economic status gives it a free ride and the U.S. has chose to not participate.
I think the Kyoto Protocols are actually a form of tax. The “takings” clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, in part, “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Environmental regulations like these have become so onerous that they have become just like a regulatory tax - one that our friends abroad (registration required) are about to pay. Canada's emissions, which were to go down 6% under the Protocols, instead increased 22%.
While the overall goal of the Protocols is laudable - indeed, it forces us all, even in the U.S., to rethink our policies - I think economic penalties are premature and should instead be phased in with the implementation of practices which protect the interests of marketplaces. First, I think we need universal standards by which the value of property, both real and intellectual, may be established. Second, we need an efficient and fair system by which both governments and property owners can seek timely redress for laws and regulations. The principle of "No taxation without representation" still holds true, even for proponents of international taxes.