December 15, 2003
KYOTO PROTOCOL ON LIFE SUPPORT
** Russia's rejection of
the Kyoto Protocol would mean its "clinical death."
** Putin is holding the
protocol "hostage" while looking for the "best deal" for
** Both proponents and
opponents of emissions controls look beyond Kyoto.
A Russian withdrawal from Kyoto would 'torpedo' the agreement-- Global editorial writers viewed Russian
"vacillation" on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse
gases as a matter of "life and death" for the agreement. They noted that the protocol needs Russian
ratification to come into effect; without Russia "the entire framework
that was laboriously erected...is at risk of dissolving." Conflicting announcements from the Kremlin
about whether Russia would or would not ratify the protocol left one British
observer feeling that the Russians "were playing roulette with the world's
climate." A leftist German daily
claimed that President Putin "is taking climate protection
hostage." While some outlets like
Russia's reformist Isvestiya concluded Kyoto "may just as well be
pronounced dead," others held the agreement to be "in a coma"
awaiting a final decision from Moscow.
The Kremlin has decided to 'raise the stakes'-- Papers in Western Europe and Argentina
speculated that Putin was being "coy" to get "the best
deal" for Russian participation.
The Russians "are analyzing percentages...to obtain as much as they
can," one writer opined. Sweden's
conservative Svenska Dagbladet observed that "cynics say that the
Russians are just trying to push up the price" for tradable CO2 emission
rights--or were no longer interested, since the likely "biggest
buyer" of those rights--the U.S.--had backed away from the treaty. Other papers said the Russians were cooling
to Kyoto because heady economic growth would leave them facing emissions
restrictions "in the near future."
A center-left Irish outlet contended Putin "is using ratification
of Kyoto as a bargaining chip" in negotiations for entry to the WTO.
'Something can be done' about global warming-- Commentators in Europe mostly decried the
possible end of the Kyoto Protocol, saying "there is no alternative"
to the "only international response so far to global warming." Some charged that President Bush "has
spared no effort" in trying to stop it from coming into effect, saying
Bush "showed his sympathy for the oil industry" by withdrawing from
the treaty. Other broadsheets, like the
Netherlands' influential, independent NRC Handelsblad, judged that
"we should not be overly regretful concerning the end of the climate
protocol," the costs of which in reduced economic growth "far
outweigh" the expected benefits.
Writers in Europe also pointed out that the EU's performance in reducing
greenhouse gases was "light years away" from its promises, adding
that it was "high time" to start planning a way to combat global
warming "without Kyoto."
Several Canadian papers echoed that idea, calling for a "clear and
achievable plan" to reduce Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions regardless of
the protocol's future.
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 34 reports from 16 countries, December 3-8, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Kyoto: There Is No Alternative"
The center left Independent editorialized (12/7): "The future of the planet now rests in
the hands of three people: President
George Bush, President Vladimir Putin--and the unlikely figure of one Aubrey
Meyer, a former concert violinist from east London. President Bush has set out to kill the Kyoto
Protocol. Despite growing support in the
U.S. for addressing climate change, he has spared no effort in stopping it
coming into effect. He is putting the screws
on President Putin. Under the protocol's
rules, it now only needs Russia's ratification to come into force. The signals from Moscow are mixed, but Putin
is thought to be waiting to see whether the U.S. or the European governments,
who support Kyoto, will come up with the best price. And Mr. Meyer? He is the still relatively unknown originator
of a body that is fast becoming the leading contender in the fight against
global warming, after Kyoto. To that
end, he has set up the Global Commons Institute. Michael Meacher, the former Environment
minister, endorses the plan--dubbed 'contraction and convergence'.... The Royal Commission on Environmental
Pollution, the World Council of Churches, and African governments have all
adopted it. Under the plan, every person
on the planet would have the right to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide,
which is the main cause of global warming.
Each nation would be set quotas, adding up to a figure the world's
climate could tolerate. They would be expected to meet them, say by 2050, and
could buy and sell parts of them. Kyoto
must first be brought into force: there
is no alternative. Then nations should
start negotiating bigger cuts in pollution on this equitable basis--worked out
in an unprepossessing London flat."
"The Kyoto Protocol
And A Deadly Game Of Russian Roulette"
Michael Meacher wrote in the center left Independent
(12/7): "At times last week it
looked as if the Russians were playing roulette with the world's
climate.... The disagreement in the
Russian government is worrying....
President Putin...is coy, either because he is waiting to get the best
deal or because growth of 7-10 per cent a year since 1999 has increased Russian
CO2 emissions...so it might instead face restrictions [in the near
future]. The U.S. and Australia...seem likely
to remain outside the [Kyoto] protocol as long as the Bush administration
lasts.... Developing nations have made
it clear they will not take on the targets until the industrialized countries,
who initially caused the problem, take effective action. That is serious because developing countries'
emissions are growing four times as fast as those of the OECD, and will
overtake them within 5-7 years....
Trading of [emissions] entitlements could safely occur as the most
efficient means to achieve it. Will it
happen? Not if the U.S. can stop it, but
if the EU and developing nations forged a voluntary partnership--a 'coalition
of the virtuous'--they could create a viable strategy to confront global
warming. As someone once said, there is
really no alternative."
The independent Financial Times editorialized (12/3): "Kyoto is the only international
response so far to global warming. Its
basic framework, partly inspired by the U.S., deserves to be maintained so that
one day it can accommodate the U.S., the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse
gases.... But something has to be done
about global warming.... Certainly
technology is vital, and the U.S. record of innovation is unparalleled. But left to itself the market does not factor
in environmental costs. Only something like
Kyoto-style compulsory ceilings on emissions and trading of carbon permits can
provide sufficient incentives to spread new technology."
Moritz Schuller had this to say in centrist Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (12/5): "Unfortunately,
there is no doubt that President George W. Bush is an environmental policy
disaster, in a literal sense a 'toxic Texan.'
U.S. energy consumption is scandalous and Bush's connections with U.S.
industry are well-documented. But it is
likely that he will be re-elected. This
outlines the prospect for the Kyoto Protocol to be ratified, even though it can
only be a small step in the direction of climate control. Bush's dislike of multilateral projects and
processes is obvious. But when it comes
to Kyoto and the ICC, imperial ideology is probably less involved than
down-to-earth interests. This is
something we should understand. Would
Germany sign an international treaty in which it would have much to lose? Probably not.
Multilateralism is not a political goal but a means to achieve a certain
end. We have witnessed it: Germany itself...is breaking the Stability
Pact of the EU. So please do not talk
about multilateral ideas."
"Greenhouse Dangers And Politicians"
Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung noted (12/5): "The consequences and the dangers of the
greenhouse effect should be well known.
But what do politicians do to counter them? First of all, they did not believe in the
results of scientific research and assumed a wait-and-see attitude. Then, when the consequences became obvious,
they finally got their act together and reached an agreement in Kyoto in 1997,
which was supposed to limit the emission of gases damaging the climate. It is true that environmentalists have always
complained about the lax goals of the Kyoto Protocol, but this agreement sent a
impressive signal to the world. But this
painstakingly unity of the global nations did not last very long: four years later, the United States withdrew
from the Protocol because President Bush did not think too much of climate
protection, but showed his sympathy for the oil industry."
"Kyoto In A Coma"
Wolfgang Roth judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (12/4): "Is the Kyoto
Protocol really dead because Russia and the United States refuse to ratify
it? There are two groups which make this
judgment: those who have always rejected
this negotiating process and those who set their hopes too high.... And those who only pinned their hope on the
negotiating process have always been on the wrong track. Evidence of this is not only COP 9 in Milan
where all sides involved are trying to reach unanimity in hundreds of detailed
question. The result will be meager because
again everything is linked to everything else.
The blockade can be broken open only through alliances among states and
state conferences on one issue like the one planned in Bonn next year where the
issue will be renewable energy. As
cynical as it may sound, it may be possible that change will come about only if
the implications of climate change are so obvious that no one can any longer
deny it.... As wrong as it is to cling
to the Kyoto Protocol, as wrong would it be to declare the international
process to be dead. A treaty that
intervenes to such an extent in national economic structures and has, at the
same time, such global effects, cannot be created overnight. We should see it that way: Kyoto lies in a coma, but it can be revived
"Russian Poker Game"
Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf held (12/4): "Russia's maneuvering concerning the
Kyoto Protocol has to do with all kinds of things--apart from Russian climate
protection policy. The collapse of the
Soviet economy in 1991, reduced the emission of greenhouse gases within a few
months to such a degree that Russia, even if the economy booms, will be certain
to achieve the goals of the international climate protection treaty. That is why an influential part of Russia's
industry is fighting for the Kyoto Protocol in order to set up a risk global trade
with the often used pollution rights.
The Kremlin in turn is using Kyoto in order to play off the U.S and the
EU against each other with the goal to gain weight in the international
arena.... For Russia it makes sense to
continue to postpone its signature under the Kyoto Protocol.... But the real damage would not happen in
Europe, including Russia, but in the quickly growing threshold countries in
India and China: without the Kyoto
Protocol, there is no incentive to invest in clean industrial plants."
"Climate Policy a la North Korea"
Bernhard Poetter argued in leftist die tageszeitung of
Berlin (12/4): "Following the U.S.
refusal to ratify the Kyoto process, the Protocol can enter into force only
with the support of Russia. Against this
background, Russia is taking climate protection hostage. The calculation behind it is: nothing will work without and against
Russia. If we cannot shape things, we
can at least spoil the entire game. This
is a policy that demonstrates strength from a position of weakness. As North Korea is waving its nuclear weapons
around to be taken seriously, Putin & Co. are waving around the Kyoto
Protocol.... Conferences like the one in
Milan are useful, nevertheless, for Kyoto is the only and thus best climate
protection agreement we have.... Kyoto
is only a small step but it is at least a step forward."
Undecided Between Economy And Ecology Fights With Europe"
A commentary in elite classical liberal Il Foglio read
(12/4): "The declarations made a
couple of days ago by Andrei Illariov...raised the global temperature at the
COP9 Conference in Milan. The reason is
that without Russia the entire framework that was laboriously erected six years
ago in Kyoto is at risk of dissolving....
With Washington's withdrawal and the exemptions given to China and India
by the Protocol, Russia fears being disadvantaged economically.... Furthermore, if the U.S. retreats, Russia
will no longer be able to count on the possibility of selling its 'credits' to
Washington.... After Illarionov's
declarations, Russian Deputy Economic Minister Mukhamed Tsikhanov claimed that
'no decisions have been made on the ratification but we are moving in that
direction.' The Italian EU Presidency
has said it is available to hold talks with Russia. Relations between the EU and Russia are not
experiencing a particularly good moment....
To go back to Kyoto, the Europeans do not have a clean
conscience.... 13 out of 15 member
countries did not abide by the fixed joint objectives, which call for a total
reduction of 8 per cent by 2008, or at the latest 2012. The only countries that stayed in line with
the program were Sweden and Great Britain.
Spain, Austria, Belgium and Ireland were the less efficient ones."
"Once Upon A Time There Was The Kyoto Protocol"
Pietro Greco commented in pro-democratic left L'Unità
(12/4): "Last Tuesday's
declaration, with which Moscow cooled the COP9 Conference in Milan, strongly
resembles the way George Bush the father cooled the Rio de Janeiro Conference
in 1992.... The truth is that
Illarianov's declarations virtually killed the Protocol that was signed in
Kyoto 8 years ago.... Illarianov's
declaration is a clear announcement that Russia intends to raise the stakes in
a commercial game and insert the ratification of the Protocol within a larger
EU negotiating context, which would include the sale of energy resources and
entry into the WTO.... After the Kyoto
Protocol, it will be necessary to involve China, India, countries Southeast
Asian and Latin American countries in the containment process.... But how can we expect these newly developed countries
to adhere to this 'post-Kyoto' draconian process when there are old developed
countries (U.S.) that don't participate at all in the modest Kyoto
Protocol?... The only agony here is not
the Kyoto Protocol...but the idea itself...that global environmental problems
can be faced by multilateral agreements that attempt to appeal to the spirit of
solidarity internationally and intergenerationally.... The EU, the 'new global' movements,
scientists and intellectuals must succeed in talking directly to the
"Moscow Doesn't Sign Kyoto Protocol"
Jacopo Giliberto opined in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24
Ore (12/3): "[Here is] the
Russian case on the climate agreement. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin's economic
adviser Andrei Illarionov confirmed that Russia has no intentions of adhering
to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change....
In fact, in Milan the Kyoto Protocol
is only a part of a wider negotiation in which all the issues are connected to
one another.... Beyond the Kyoto
Protocol. An agreement which is seen as
old and inadequate is being supplanted to go on to something else.... So yesterday another agreement was
consolidated--the economic regulations of Kyoto will only apply to countries
that ratified the Protocol. This means
that energy products and European technological standards will be favored on
the international market for the environment and on innovation exports."
Doesn't Need Kyoto Protocol"
Reformist Izvestiya remarked (12/5): "Russia caused a sensation in the world
as its President Vladimir Putin stated that his country will not adhere to the
Kyoto Protocol on terms that are unfavorable to it. After that statement, which shocked
politicians round the world, the Kyoto Protocol may just as well be pronounced
dead. Without Russia, it simply can't come
into force. Presidential advisor Andrey
Illarionov calls the refusal to sign the Protocol Decision of the Year. In his opinion, ratifying the Protocol would
have taken this country down a peg in the GDP growth rate.... There is still no agreement among scientists
on whether carbon dioxide affects the climate."
Rachel Crivellaro observed in independent French-language La
Libre Belgique (12/8): "If
Russia confirms its decision, that would be nothing else than Kyoto’s clinical
death. The UN and the EU remain
optimistic and hope for another Russian turnabout. Yet, this umpteenth diplomatic development
should not conceal a much more sad reality:
if it does not change its policies, the EU will only reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5 percent by 2010 compared to its 1990
levels. This would be light years from
the 8 percent that the EU committed itself to reach when it ratified the Kyoto
Protocol. As for Belgium, it is really
the bad pupil in the Fifteen’s classroom.
By 2010, Belgian emissions should exceed by 22.9 percent the levels that
it pledged to reach. This is a
particularly pitiful performance for the most enthusiastic supporters of the
Kyoto Protocol, especially since they have no qualms criticizing the United
States and Russia."
"Everything Can Stay as It Has Always Been"
Bart Sturtewagen commented in independent Christian Democrat De
Standaard (Internet version, 12/8):
"It has been clear for quite some time that it would require a
miracle to curb greenhouse gas omissions so as to meet the Kyoto treaty's
standards. Yet, the idea that the entire
Kyoto concept might as well be dumped is new.
This is what is about to happen, though, now that Russia has said it no
longer intends to ratify the environment accord.... Back in 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush
was the first person who dared to say aloud that the ambitious accord was
unrealistic.... The whole world was
taken aback by his blunt statement that his country would not accept any
economic constraints imposed by an international treaty concluded by his
predecessor.... Since the United States
produces one-third of all greenhouse gasses, Bush dealt a severe blow to the
fight against global warming. This
provoked a chorus of disapproval in Europe, which produces one-quarter of all
greenhouse gas emissions. This is quite
hypocritical because neither on this side of the Atlantic will we succeed in
meeting the Kyoto standards....
Belgium...is among the worst performers.... Now that the Russians have carefully read the
text of the treaty, they are no longer convinced it will benefit them. Since the United States will not be among the
bidders, the sales price of emission rights could remain below target.... Although the EU claims it will continue to
strive for the Kyoto targets, the pressure to comply with this vow has
disappeared. So the visionary plan that
sought to prompt the world community to assume its responsibility for the
livability of our planet, also with respect to future generations, has turned
out to be too ambitious. The search for
cleaner energy sources will slow down and investments in new environmental
technologies will drop.... So everything
can stay as it has always been, while people simply think: when the world goes to the dogs, we will no
longer be around to see it."
Research Can Contribute To Beating Climate Change"
Center-left Politiken editorialized (12/7): "Even though American COP-9 negotiators
appear to be adamant that new technology can beat climate change, there is some
light at the end of the tunnel in as much as, the Americans are investing more
money than ever in research."
IRELAND: "Putin Aide
Insists Kyoto Pact Dead"
Daniel McLaughlin wrote in the center-left Irish Times (12/5): "After Washington pulled out of the
pact, Russia's ratification became crucial to take the cumulative emissions of
signatory states to 55 per cent of the world output of such gases as carbon
dioxide.... Greenpeace said U.S.
pressure could be coming to bear on Moscow, noting that Mr. Putin's comments on
Kyoto soured after his meeting with President Bush in September. Many economists have advised Russia to ratify
Kyoto.... Observers also say Mr. Putin
is using ratification of Kyoto as a bargaining chip in protracted and often
heated negotiations over Russia's long-delayed entry into the World Trade
"EU Heading For Failure"
Frank McDonald noted in the center-left Irish Times
(12/3): "A runaway increase in
transport emissions is being blamed by the European Environment Agency (EEA)
for its latest pessimistic assessment that the EU will not meet its targets
under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.
Ireland is among the worst offenders, the agency finds.... Latest projections show that initiatives
already being implemented at European or national level will reduce the EU's
total emissions in 2010 to only 0.5 per cent below 1990 levels, leaving it 7.5
per cent short of the Kyoto target....
On the basis of existing measures alone, most EU member-states including
Germany would miss their Kyoto targets.
Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Austria and Belgium 'would all exceed theirs by
more than 20 per cent', the EEA said.
According to the agency, the outlook is somewhat brighter when the
additional measures being planned in 11 member-states, mainly in the energy
sector, are brought into the picture.
These are projected to bring emission cuts of about 6.7 per cent. The EEA noted that seven of the 10 states
joining the EU next year are on track to achieve their Kyoto targets."
"Russia Cools On Climate Change Agreement"
Daniel McLaughlin wrote in the center-left Irish Times
(12/3): "One of the Kremlin's
economic gurus said yesterday that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol
in its current form, a move that could torpedo the landmark UN treaty to reduce
global warming. 'The Kyoto Protocol
places significant limitations on the economic growth of Russia,' said Mr.
Andrei Illarionov, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin and a well-known
sceptic of a treaty that the United States has already rejected as
flawed..... Mr. Putin, after expressing
some early enthusiasm for the pact, had cooled markedly since declaring his
intent to double Russia's gross domestic product by 2010.... After Washington pulled out of the pact,
Russia's ratification became crucial to take the cumulative emissions of
signatory states to at least 55 per cent of the world output of gases like
carbon dioxide. Only then will the
protocol come into force.... But Moscow
has stalled on ratification.... Russian
officials have said Moscow wants concrete guarantees of revenue from emissions
rights and investment in cleaner industry and power production. Mr. Putin is also reported to be using Kyoto
as a bargaining chip in protracted talks over Russian accession to the
LATVIA: "Will It
Peteris Strautins wrote in leading Diena (12/6): "It is interesting to compare the
reaction of the rest of the world when American President George Bush announced
in 2001 that he would not support ratification of the protocol (it was known
that the position of the United States Senate made ratification unrealistic
anyway) and when Russia presented its disappointing attitude this week. In fact, Russia has changed its mind--in
September President [Vladimir] Putin said that Russia would support the
protocol. Bush caused a storm of
disgust, but the reaction to Russia's decision can be compared to a careful
consideration of the tips of one's shoes during an uncomfortable
situation. This reflects the particular
dislike which politicians in Europe and other parts of the world--leftist
politicians in particular--hold for the United States and, especially, its
present government. In relation to this decision, it must be said, the dislike
is quite justified.... In Latvia, praise
for the Kyoto Protocol presents a great chance to demonstrate concern for global
problems without undertaking the burden of any related costs. If the protocol really does take force, we
will even be able to gain from it....
Our situation is the most advantageous of any European country. This would allow us to sell our unused
pollution quotas to other countries which cannot satisfy their own
obligations. It is very simple to give
advice to Latvia's politicians in this case--do what you can to support the
taking force of the protocol."
NETHERLANDS: "The End of
Rotterdam's influential, independent NRC Handelsblad in editorialized
(12/3): "This week, environment
ministers and civil servants are meeting in Milan concerning the state of
affairs of the Kyoto Protocol. It is not
doing well. Russia will probably not
sign the protocol.... Without Russia,
the protocol will not take effect. In
that case, the required minimum level of emissions from industrialized
countries would not be attained.... The
EU does want to respect the protocol targets, even if it never takes
effect. But...most EU member states are
not succeeding in reaching the targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions.... 13 of the 15 EU member
states, including the Netherlands, are way above their targets.... We should not be overly regretful concerning
the end of the climate protocol.
Regardless of the ongoing scientific discussions of the extent of the
process of climate change, the protocol has fundamental shortcomings. Meeting the demands of the Kyoto Protocol
will increasingly place limitations on energy consumption. The costs in terms of reduced economic growth
far outweigh the expected minimal reduction of temperature growth over a long
period. No account is taken of the
pressure of population growth. And the
rise of large and populous developing countries is ignored, while that is where
the strongest growth in energy consumption is taking place.... It is better to shift the emphasis to the
search for technological alternatives, rather than holding on to unrealistic
objectives and continuing to insist with moral outrage on the meaning of a
protocol, which will not take effect....
Much more can be attained with saving energy. The reduction of subsidies for traditional
fuels like coal will also help. In this
way, more practical solutions can be imagined, making the difficult respect of
the Kyoto Protocol unnecessary. If in a
few years, it emerges that it is totally impossible that the EU countries will
meet the demands, which they have set themselves, then they will be grateful to
President Bush and President Putin because they have set the Kyoto Protocol to
SWEDEN: "Sweden One Of
Few Countries Living Up To Kyoto"
Bjorn Lindahl remarked in the conservative Svenska
Dagbladet (Internet version, 12/5):
"The United States and Australia have said no. Russia is vacillating. China and India are excused. The EU is positive, but 13 out of 15 member
countries cannot meet their commitments.
Who will actually weep if the Kyoto protocol is officially declared
dead? The answer is Sweden, one of the
two EU countries that will actually reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases at
the pace pledged.... In other quarters,
there will be mostly crocodile tears.
Canada, which ratified the agreement...promised to reduce its emissions
by six percent. They increased them by
19 percent instead.... There has been
similar development in many other countries.
The Kyoto agreement will collapse if Russia says no.... It is still too early to say that the country
will not ratify the agreement.... The
minister for economic development...has claimed that Russia is moving toward
ratification.... The cynics say that the
Russians are just trying to push up the price for the emissions rights they
negotiated into place. As the base level
was set at 1990, Russia had not yet got through the economic crisis that arose
when the socialist economy was being adjusted to the free market. The crisis was so deep that Russia is
allowed to increase its carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent without reaching
its ceiling. Russia can therefore make
out 'air invoices.' It can, against
payment, transfer its emissions quotas to other countries without the
environment being improved one bit. With
the U.S. withdrawal in 2001, the Kyoto agreement was damaged in two ways: on the one hand, the country responsible for
the greatest emissions disappeared. On
the other, the biggest buyer of emissions rights disappeared. Supporters of the Kyoto protocol often seem
to believe that it is only a matter of waiting until President George W. Bush
disappears. But the United States Senate
said no to the agreement, 95 votes to 0.
It is bitter to realize that you are the only one doing your
homework. But it is high time to start
planning how the fight against the greenhouse effect can take place without the
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Environment Talks Must Be More Than Hot
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
remarked (12/8): "With environment
ministers from around the world meeting in Milan this week, global warming is
set to be a subject of acrimonious debate.
The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, aims to cut emissions of the most
damaging greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, to 95 per cent of 1990 levels. But after the U.S., the world's largest
producer of the gas, withdrew its support in 2001, there have been increasing
doubts as to whether the treaty would be ratified by a sufficient number of
countries.... Sticking to its guns, the
U.S. has reiterated that implementing the protocol, which is about using
existing technology to reduce emissions, would only slow economic growth. It argues that emissions should be reduced by
using breakthrough technology that transforms how energy is produced and
consumed. Citing U.S.-led efforts to
introduce a hydrogen- powered economy, it says only new technology will allow
growth to continue. The U.S. position is
dubious in that it is difficult to see why new and existing technology could
not be used at the same time to reduce emissions."
THAILAND: "Looking For
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative,
English language Bangkok Post read (12/7): “Someone in the White House must be saying,
‘I told you so!’ Even as ministers and
delegates from around the world were meeting last week in Milan, Italy to
discuss ways to revitalize the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, serious
problems are emerging over its implementation, for the very reason the U.S.
backed out of the agreement: the
economic costs are higher than most nations are willing to pay. A major setback to the treaty came from the
Kremlin, when an aide to President Putin indicated Russia would not ratify the
treaty because the financial restraints imposed by significantly reducing the
emissions of carbon dioxide are not in Russia’s national interests.... Another major blow came with the news that 13
of the 15 nations of the European Union will be way off the emission reduction
targets set by the agreement....
America’s official position on Kyoto has long been known. Paula Dobriansky, U.S. undersecretary of
state for global affairs, earlier in the week denounced it as being
unrealistic.... Another technology with
promise is nuclear fusion.... Toward
that end, a joint effort by Russia, Japan, the European Union, the United
States, Canada, China and South Korea will soon inaugurate a prototype nuclear
fusion power plant called the International Thermonuclear experimental Reactor
(ITER).... Aside from the global warming
issue, there is a strong likelihood that at some time in the not-too-distant
future oil reserves will begin to run out.
Despite the cost and the uncertainty of success, ITER is the kind of
multinational project which should be promoted if we do not wish to see nuclear
fission power plants dotting the planet.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Wages Of
The pro-economic-reform Financial Express editorialized
(12/8): "The recent statement by
President Putin's chief economic advisor, Andrei Illarionov, that Russia would
not ratify the Kyoto Protocol 'in its present form' expectedly set off a debate
amongst the environment fraternity on the future of the treaty and climate
change.... But there are others who say
that with or without Russia on board, Kyoto, despite its deep flaws, has
already set in motion the process to tackle global warming. For instance, the EU has passed a law
requiring a ceiling on GHG emissions by 2005 which also requires that a carbon
trading system be put in place by that time, regardless of the pact's
fate.... The Bush administration has
called on industry to help it achieve its goal of reducing an 18 per cent
reduction in GHG emissions between 2002-12.
Even in industrializing countries, including India, which hope to
substantially benefit financially through the process of carbon trading with
developed countries, there is now greater awareness regarding climate change
with environmental security already an intrinsic part of several countries' national
energy policies.... But even a Kyoto
will not be able to achieve its goals unless countries realize the necessity of
balancing growth with environmental sustainability. Treaty or not, countries
must realize that clean air is important."
CANADA: "Improve Kyoto
With A Truly Global Effort"
The conservative Gazette of Montreal remarked (12/8): "The news and attendant explanations
from Russia--which is No. 4 on the international list of greenhouse-gas
emitters--might just as well have come from Canada. To comply with the utopian Kyoto expectation
of a 5.2-percent reduction in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by
2012 would strangle economic growth and create politically unsustainable
hardship. Developed nations were to bear
the brunt of the reductions; Third World economies were largely exempt. Much scorn is heaped on the U.S. (No. 1 on
the emission parade) for having nothing to do with the Kyoto protocol. Scorn is heaped even on the American
complaint that China and India were exempted.
Yet developing countries are major offenders. One of the great under-reported stories of
our times is that emissions from cooking fires in Asia contribute seriously to
the Greenhouse Effect. While the image
of a peasant preparing dinner is far removed from that of an executive topping
up the tank of an SUV, the activities are virtual twins in terms of the harm
they do to the environment.... In one
respect, however, Kyoto has done some good, by alerting the public to a problem
that will not soon go away. While there
is still debate about the extent to which climate change is caused by human
intervention, there is no doubt that atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased,
and no reason to suppose this is good.
Reducing emissions remains a priority.
But we'll need to get the attention of all major governments, and then
their co-operation. Kyoto was not good
"Reports Of Kyoto's Death Are Premature"
David Suzuki, scientist and broadcaster in Vancouver, observed in
the leading Globe and Mail (Internet version, 12/5): "Kyoto is not dead. In fact, the Kyoto Protocol is not even
dying. Some people wish that Kyoto would
fizzle out, including Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and oil industry lobbyists,
who incorrectly link cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to a less robust
economy. They were among the first to
react after an economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said this
week that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.... It's true that if Russia doesn't ratify, the
Kyoto Protocol will not enter into force....
But I'm optimistic that Russia will ratify. Why?
Because President Putin said [to many leaders in the past several months
that] he would. His adviser is mistaken
if he thinks that Kyoto comes at the expense of the economy. This couldn't be further from the truth. Kyoto will boost the economy with a new focus
on energy efficiency and conservation.
Wasted energy is wasted money, which is irresponsible--both fiscally and
environmentally. By eliminating energy
waste, we can meet our Kyoto targets, slow climate change, reduce pollution and
put money in our pockets. Right now,
thousands of delegates from around the world are meeting in Italy to finalize
details of the Kyoto Protocol. It's a
good thing that Kyoto isn't dead. It's
an agreement well worth saving. Instead
of writing Kyoto's obituary, we should be celebrating its birth."
The liberal Toronto Star held (Internet version,
12/4): "In refusing to participate
in the Kyoto accord, which is the international attempt to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions that contribute to global warming, U.S. President George Bush
could reasonably be described as a passive eco-terrorist against the planet we
all share. But by putting short-term
U.S. economic gains before the long-run costs of continued global warming, Bush
has not only shirked his responsibility as leader of the world's only
superpower, he has given other countries an excuse to do the same. Now, with Russia parroting Bush's arguments
against Kyoto, the treaty may never come into force. Russia's participation is essential for the
accord to take effect. In light of this
potential crisis, Canadians would surely expect Paul Martin to do everything in
his power to convince the Russians to ratify the Kyoto accord as soon as he
takes over as prime minister late next week.
Instead, Martin reacted to the news out of Moscow by talking about his
own problems with the Kyoto accord. He
complained that Canada doesn't have a plan for meeting its own commitments that
is as detailed and comprehensive as it should be. That is probably true. But there is no point talking about the
deficiencies in our own plan to meet our treaty targets, when the treaty itself
is under serious threat. Instead of
underscoring the additional economic costs that Ottawa may not have adequately
assessed--and leaving Canadians with the distinct impression that he wouldn't
be all that upset if the treaty didn't proceed, Martin should be using the
global stature he has earned as champion of a new international order to press
Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the 120 countries that have already
signed the accord."
"With Or Without Kyoto, Canada Needs A
The leading Globe and Mail held (Internet
version, 12/4): "The 1997 Kyoto
Protocol, ushered in with considerable hope by its proponents, is not
officially dead. But it is time to
prepare the obituaries for an international treaty so flawed that it likely
never could have delivered on its goal of significantly reducing the emissions
of greenhouse gases implicated in global warming. Optimistic delegates gathered at the latest
United Nations conference on climate change in Milan are continuing their work
on rules governing various aspects of the treaty. But they would be better off looking for
alternatives.... Laudable as the aims of
the Kyoto Protocol are...it is full of holes in logic, including its radically
different treatment of rich and poor countries.... The United States wanted no part of an accord
that could not guarantee that worldwide emissions would be reduced even if all
the industrialized nations were to climb aboard. The Americans feared massive new costs for
their manufacturers and energy producers, and potential economic and social
upheaval, without any certainty about what the exercise would amount to at the
end of the day. That is also the concern
of Canadians who have expressed skepticism about the accord and about the
costly and onerous conditions it imposes.
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who views Kyoto as one of his legacy
achievements, insists this country should live up to its commitments. But he does so without any knowledge of what
costs and economic risks that will entail, or even whether it will be of any
benefit. Prime-minister-designate Paul
Martin repeated yesterday what he has said in the past: that while he supported the accord, it would
not work without a detailed plan on whether emission-reduction targets were
attainable, on how to meet them, on the economic benefits from implementing new
technologies and on the costs. Now that
the accord's fate appears sealed--never certain when the Russians are
involved--the federal government must do what it should have done in the first
place. Come up with a clear and
achievable plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions without inflicting grave
economic harm, and let Canadians debate whether the sacrifices that will be
necessary to implement it are worth it.
Mr. Chrétien tried to dress up a pledge as policy, which was putting the
cart before the horse."
"Life After Kyoto Should Put The Plan
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen editorialized (12/4): "The main [problem], both here and
abroad, is the lack of a practical plan to achieve the Kyoto targets. And the answer to that problem isn't another
high-minded, headline-grabbing multilateral promise to do something good in an
unspecified way. It's to specify a good way forward.... If Canada finds a practical way to reduce
greenhouse gases that does limited harm to the traditional economy and gives a
major boost to the new one, it will prove to the doubters in many countries,
especially Australia and the U.S., that it can be done, and show supporters in
Europe and Japan how to do it. The
result will be unstoppable pressure for action including, but not limited to, a
new, more detailed, actually effective treaty.
And if the science or economics behind Kyoto are flawed, we'll know
"Bidding Kyoto Adieu"
The conservative National Post opined (12/4): "The scientific debate about whether
man-made carbon dioxide and methane is contributing to higher temperatures will
likely continue for years. But whatever
the scale of the problem, Kyoto is not the solution--especially if only a
handful of nations are taking its provisions seriously. Our government must not allow Canada to
become the great patsy of the industrialized world. Already, the projected cost of compliance for
this country is around $28 billion and tens of thousands of jobs. That bill will only go up if our industry
burdens itself with emissions caps that the United States, Russia and a growing
number of other Kyoto signatories are ignoring."
Roy Clancy stated in the conservative tabloid Calgary Sun
(12/3): "Yesterday, a high-ranking
adviser to President Vladimir Putin said Russia has gotten cold feet because
Kyoto will damage his country's economy....
But the Kyoto Protocol was shaping up as a headlong race toward disaster
all by itself. The Americans, who pulled
out of the Protocol in 2001, called it 'an unrealistic and ever-tightening
regulatory straitjacket.' Even the
European nations that staunchly backed the pact admitted this week they were
not on track to meet goals. In the
absence of any coherent plan, it is difficult to understand how Canada, a
nation with huge distances between cities and one of the coldest climates on
Earth, could ever meet its unrealistic target.... No argument emissions must be reduced, but
it's becoming clear that the Kyoto Protocol, with its dubious emissions trading
schemes and potentially devastating economic impact, is not the way to go about
For Global Warming Summit"
Julio Alganaraz wrote in leading Clarín (12/4): "Russia's lack of decision is leading
the Milan summit to a deadlock. This
summit is aimed at kicking off the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997 by 120 nations
with the purpose to reduce global warming gases.... Yesterday, 6,500 delegates and experts at the
9th Conference on Climate Change were on the brink as a consequence of the
contradictory versions coming from Moscow, which forecasted the collapse of the
agreement.... The tough negotiations
aimed at obtaining Russia's support are the most important and pathetic aspects
of the conference, while terrifying data on the future consequences of growing
contamination keeps piling up....
Russia's 'yes' or 'no' is now a matter of life or death for the Kyoto
Protocol. Moscow has been going back and
forth with this decision for a long time because it wants to obtain major
economic advantages from its deals with the U.S.--which proposes bilateral
agreements to all countries in an attempt to boycott the treaty and impose its
development model--or from its support to the Kyoto agreement that also offers
Hinde Pomeraniec, leading Clarin international columnist,
opined (12/4): "Since its
unilateral withdrawal from Kyoto in 2001...the U.S. no longer needs to measure
its levels of pollution. Instead, it boycotts
a treaty that 'limits' its production, while it promotes that another country
clean its atmosphere.... In order to
avoid a failure before its birth, the Kyoto Protocol needs Russia's
ratification. In Moscow...they're also
analyzing percentages, and they want to obtain as much as they can from their
signature--which today is worth more than any other."
BRAZIL: "Heat And
Center-right O Globo declared (12/3): "First, President Vladimir Putin,
referring to the Kyoto Protocol, said in a mocking manner that a little more of
heat would be good for Russia. Then
Putin's main Economic Advisor Andrei Illarionov announced that Russia would not
ratify the Treaty. Now, however, Economy
Deputy Minister Tsikhanov discredited Illarionov and stated the country is
moving towards the Protocol's ratification.
One hopes this is the real position of Putin's government that would
then demonstrate it not being affected by short-term myopia, the only
explanation for the rejection. Because
according to local scientists, if the Treaty is good for the whole world it is
particularly good for Russia. They
warn: the country is under a disastrous
threat of climatic changes due to global warming."