In his State of the Union address, President Clinton renewed his commitment to end global warming. His efforts seem well-intentioned.
However, his solution, the ratification by Congress of the Kyoto protocol - a binding international climate treaty - would have an enormous impact on domestic and international governance, hastening the day when the United Nations is transformed from an association of sovereign states into a one-world governing body.Congress should reject Mr. Clinton's proposal. The treaty will do very little to curb global carbon-dioxide emissions, which alarmists predict will warm the earth two to six degrees and raise sea levels six inches to three feet.
Even its supporters concede that emissions from China and India alone are likely to overwhelm the proposed reductions by the United States and Western Europe before the target date for the reductions is reached.
The Kyoto protocol's transfer of carbon-dioxide emissions from richer to poorer countries means a transfer of production and consumption of energy-intensive products. This means a corresponding transfer of wealth.
Assuming the United States and other developed nations make this sacrifice, and the sovereignty transfer is accomplished, what kind of enforcement powers will be given to the new supergovernment? Some form of coercion will surely be required to make the agreement binding.
Should the supergovernment have troops to enforce its dictates? Nobody is suggesting that, at least not in public. Then what would work? The approach most mentioned so far is trade restrictions.
A country that failed to meet its mandated reductions would face an extra charge on its exports when crossing the borders of other participating countries. But who would collect this duty? Who would keep or distribute it?
Consider the economic impact.
Before Vice President Al Gore went to last year's environmental conference in Kyoto, the most discussed plan was a return to 1990 carbon-dioxide emission levels by the year 2010. Mr. Gore's ''coup'' was getting Japan to accept a reduction of 6 percent below 1990 levels, in exchange for the United States' accepting a 7 percent reduction.
Using mainstream economic assumptions, per capita income would drop almost 10 percent in my home state of Ohio alone. The cost of household energy, clothing, other manufactured goods and gasoline would increase.
The 1992 Rio de Janeiro agreement was on target. It called for voluntary, not mandatory, caps on carbon-dioxide emissions and continued scientific scrutiny of the warming phenomenon. With that agreement as a foundation, we should view the next decade as an opportunity.
We need to determine if global warming is in fact taking place. If so, how much? What is causing it? How can we arrest it?
If capping carbon-dioxide emissions turns out to be necessary, we need to take a global approach, not simply to transfer emission caps from one part of the globe to another with no meaningful overall reduction.
Instead of transferring American sovereignty and jobs overseas, we should instead deliver American technology to developing nations, to help them meet their growing energy needs.