GLOBAL WARMING TREATY TO TAKE EFFECT
GLOBAL WARMING TREATY TO TAKE EFFECT
2005-02-14 at 9:26:00 am #10233
Global Warming Treaty Set to Take Effect
NEW YORk;After seven
politically painful years, the Kyoto Protocol finally enters into force
on Wednesday, reining in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and
other`greenhouse gases” in a first attempt to control climate
The global pact negotiated in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, remains a small
step, potentially eliminating only one-tenth of a projected 30 percent
rise in worldwide emissions between 1990 and 2010. Its supporters
already are looking beyond it, toward bigger steps once the agreement
expires in 2012.
Progress will be limited without the United States, however. The
world’s biggest emitter rejects the Kyoto pact and balks at discussing
future mandatory cuts. European environment ministers, key Kyoto
supporters, say they will step up efforts this year to win Washington
“We will continue to pressure hard for all of our international
partners to come on board,” European environment chief Stavros Dimas
said last Wednesday as the European Commission proposed such post-2012
steps as extending emissions reductions to aviation and shipping. The
Bush administration believes it is “premature” to plan talks, said
Paula Dobriansky, a U.S. undersecretary of state.
Scientific evidence on climate change continues to mount. At a British
government-sponsored conference in early February, international
experts cited melting mountain glaciers, shrinking Arctic ice and
changes in rainfall patterns, among other effects of global warming.
Compared with even a few years ago, “there is greater clarity and
reduced uncertainty about the impacts of climate change,” the
conference committee concluded.
The global average temperature rose about 1 degree Fahrenheit during
the 20th century. A broad scientific consensus attributes the rise
largely to the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere, and warns of climate disruptions later this century.
The Kyoto Protocol, an adjunct to the 1992 U.N. treaty on climate
change, has been ratified by 140 nations, but its binding restrictions
apply to only 35 industrialized countries, committed to reducing or
limiting output of six gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, a byproduct of
burning coal and oil products.
By 2012 the European Union, for example, is to reduce emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels and Japan by 6 percent.
The United States, which envisaged a 7 percent reduction, signed the
protocol in 1997, but the U.S. Senate had resolved in advance not to
accept it, citing potential damage to the U.S. economy and demanding
that such emerging polluters as China and India be covered.
In March 2001, President Bush also cited the “incomplete state of
scientific knowledge” in renouncing the agreement, although the U.S.
National Academy of Sciences subsequently endorsed the scientific
consensus about the cause of warming.
Because the protocol required ratification by countries accounting for
55 percent of global emissions, the U.S. rejection left it to Russia to
keep Kyoto alive. Moscow vacillated for years before finally ratifying
it last November, making the pact effective Feb. 16.
Kyoto will require governments to report regularly on compliance, and
in some cases the prospects are dim. Spain’s emissions, for example,
are growing three times faster than allowed.
But “it’s too early to conclude that targets will not be met,” said
the Dutch head of the treaty secretariat, Joke Waller-Hunter. She noted
the EU has opted to “burden-share,” to commit to a Europe-wide
arrangement whereby one nation’s shortcomings can be made up elsewhere.
Key to Europe’s success will be its 6-week-old emissions trading
system, under which governments have allocated carbon dioxide quotas to
12,000 industrial facilities, from power plants to paper factories.
Those emitting less gas than allowed can sell unused “carbon credits”
to others that overshoot their targets.
The Europeans are expected to raise the issue of deeper post-Kyoto cuts
at informal talks this May under the broader, 194-nation U.N. climate
The European Commission, forwarding recommendations to the EU governing
council last Wednesday, noted that a relatively small group – the EU,
United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, China and India – emits 75
percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. It suggested narrower talks on
reductions among these governments, parallel to broader treaty talks.
Bush administration reaction was negative. “We believe that it is
premature to establish new mechanisms for negotiating future
commitments,” the State Department’s Dobriansky, who oversees climate
talks, told The Associated Press. She pointed instead to U.S.-led
programs to develop hydrogen and other new energy technologies as a
preferred route to greenhouse gas Reductions.