In the United States, the Kyoto Protocol received mixed reviews. President Clinton signed the agreement. However, in order to have the force of law, the protocol needed to be ratified by two-thirds of the 100 members of the Senate. Various views were expressed. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut issued the following statement.
"I commend President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their moral and political leadership in addressing the threat of global climate change. In signing the Kyoto Protocol today, the president and vice president are in sync with the American people who support action on global warming because they care about the kind of world we leave to our children and because they want the cleaner air that will come with implementing this treaty.
"It is essential that the United States be a full player at the negotiating table in order to influence future decisions that will be made about emissions trading and other market-based programs which we fought hard to include in the Kyoto agreement.
"By signing the agreement, the Administration confers on the United States the authority and credibility it needs to continue its leadership role in shaping and implementing these programs and in persuading the developing nations to become a part of the solution.
"At the same time, no binding obligations will be placed on American companies as a result of the agreement. The Administration has said it will require meaningful participation by developing countries before seeking ratification of the treaty by the Senate.
"The Kyoto Protocol is not a complete agreement; it is only a
beginning. But it establishes the goals and describes the mechanisms for
dealing with global warming…"
Sen. Lieberman's views, however, were not shared by a majority of senators. The main stumbling block was the absence of a requirement for developing countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The possible effect of the treaty was also discussed in the House of
Representatives. On April 14, 1999, at a House hearing about the Fiscal
Year Climate Change Budget, Chairman James Sensenbrenner Jr. of
"As I have said on many occasions, I believe this U.N. treaty to be seriously flawed—so flawed, in fact, that it cannot be salvaged. In short, the treaty is based on immature science, costs too much, leaves too many procedural questions unanswered, is grossly unfair because developing countries are not required to participate, and will do nothing to solve the speculative problem it is intended to solve."
Recognizing that he lacked the support of two-thirds of the Senators, President Clinton decided not to submit the Kyoto Protocol for ratification at that time. For two years, the United States was party to the treaty as an annex member.