A Weather Eye on...
Tiempo's roving reporter, Weather Eye, comments on the issues of the day.
Weather Eye this issue presents a number of comments heard, around and about, in the aftermath of the Third Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention held in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997.
The Kyoto Protocol has stimulated a diverse range of responses.
Greenpeace International commented that the agreement would not lead to any real reductions on 1990 level emissions of greenhouse gases and failure to come up with a significant reduction in Kyoto has merely delayed the inevitable move away from coal and oil, but at a very high price.
Concluding that the agreement is not good enough for the future, Ritt Bjerregaard, European Union Environment Commissioner, continued, I think we should all be happy that we got the Americans on board. She praised Japan for agreeing to cut 1990 level emissions by six per cent but said that Russia showed a lack of ambition given its lower post-Soviet era emissions and criticized Australia for its hard-line position.
Hailing the international pact on global warming and calling it a major step toward limiting growth in greenhouse gas emissions, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, said it shows true political leadership.
There is no way the United States Senate will support the
ratification of this terribly flawed UN treaty... It lets developing
nations that will become the worlds largest emitters of
greenhouse gases, nations such as China, Mexico, India, Brazil, South
Korea and 130 other nations, completely off the hook.
I sat behind them [the US fossil-fuel lobby group, the Global
Climate Coalition] in Kyoto as they watched those final hours on a TV
screen, and I saw their sly little smiles as the chairman, finding no
consensus, threw out proposed paragraphs setting terms for
developing countries to agree future targets for their emissions of
greenhouse gases... History will probably pass by the Global Climate
Coalition. American companies will soon realize that there is money to
be made from trading in carbon pollution permits and introducing
cleaner technologies. Some of its members, such as Shell, already see
which way the wind is blowing.
The question is to what extent we are ready to set a lead, to
set an example to the United States, to go unilateral. My
determination is that we should go that way.
All Americans can and should be proud of the role that our
country played in leading the world to finish this agreement. And we
would not have reached this critical moment... if it had not been for
the vision and tenacity of President Clinton... We still have a lot of
hard work ahead of us... We still have to press for meaningful
participation by key developing nations.
The stunning result at Kyoto for Australia secures the future
of our coal industry and congratulations are owed to our negotiators
for never losing sight of our national interest... The Australian coup
notwithstanding, it is still the case that this treaty is in no way
justified either by the physical climatic evidence surrounding
greenhouse gases or by the economic damage which it would do to other
economies such as the US and Japan. It is to be hoped therefore that
the US Senate, which is to consider treaty ratification, adopts a
clearer view of Americas own national interests than did their
delegation at Kyoto led by Vice President Al Gore.
Editorial note: A previous version of this page described John Daly as a Consultant to the Australian Coal Association. This was incorrect and we apologise for any embarrassment this has caused.
This target is going to be quite tough, and I am not sure the
Trade Ministry has a good idea how to accomplish it domestically at
this point in time... Emissions trading and joint implementation will
really be the key for us.
China remains firmly opposed to new obligations for
developing nations which would require a cut in emissions of
greenhouse gases... China is merely a victim suffering
from the excesses of the industrialized elite. Beijing will refuse to
limit emissions until it has reached the level of a moderately
We are deeply satisfied with the Protocol, which calls for a
5.2 per cent reduction... of emissions from developed countries... You
have to recognize that one country, whose President announced a zero
reduction target six weeks ago, has now moved to 7 per cent... This
agreement will have a real impact on the problem of greenhouse gas
emissions... Today should be remembered as the Day of the Atmosphere.
It is weak and sickly, but it lives; it will be insufficient
to slow down global warming, but it is nevertheless an historic
watershed. There are major loopholes in the agreement and several
vital questions remain unanswered... some rich countries will actually
be able to increase pollution. Most disgraceful among these is
What happened is a disgrace... the Administration sold every
American worker down the river, and it is time for our union and
industry to begin looking at supporting candidates who will stand up
not only for coal miners, but for every last worker in this country.
We demand that the European Union, independent of the Kyoto
outcome, implement the goal of a 15 per cent reduction on carbon
[With the help of the Kyoto agreement] the era of the gas
powered internal combustion engine is coming to an end.
Kyoto represents a splendid result... It is an outcome that
will protect tens of thousands of Australia jobs.
The Kyoto Protocol provides for real and significant
greenhouse gas reductions... The key now is to put into place
effective national policies to influence the behaviour of industry and
consumers. We must also ensure that each country makes the bulk of its
reductions through its domestic energy, industry, and transport
sectors, and not abroad via the international emissions trading system
and other flexibility provisions.
We shouldnt be blinded by the fact that the Kyoto
Protocol breaks important new ground in the international climate
treaty process. The gulf between what science tells us is needed and
the Kyoto targets is huge. Science magazine recently quoted a
top scientist as saying well need about thirty Kyotos
worth of reductions to stabilize the climate.
Climate change will not be solved by the industrialized world
alone... We must create incentives to mobilize the flow of finance and
cleaner technology into rapidly growing areas of the world... We stand
ready to support vigorous and effective implementation of the Kyoto
Developing countries have said that they will agree to targets
once industrial countries demonstrate their commitment through real
action. In fact, many developing nations have already done far more
than the US. China, for example, has cut fossil fuel subsidies from
50% to almost zero. Europe and the US still subsidize fossil fuels to
the tune of tens of billions of dollars.
The final agreement is approximately 30 per cent worse for the
US economy than President Clintons original proposal. The US has
not had to deal with an adverse economic impact of this magnitude
since the Depression.
The dirty boys did well in Kyoto... A glance down the list of
countries with the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide
reveals that 10 of the top 20 emitters in 1995 have not been asked to
accept targets... Kyoto was a big step forward in tackling global
warming. But, with the wealthy, forceful nations extracting huge
concessions from exhausted delegates, it left serious questions about
the equitable application of its rules.
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