February 22, 2005
KYOTO PROTOCOL IMPLEMENTATION: AN IMPERFECT 'FIRST STEP'
** European outlets view Kyoto as a "small start towards a large problem."
** Developing countries "avoid" protocol now, but will be targets in the next round of talks.
** Europe sees potential economic gain from Kyoto.
** U.S. "boycott" of Kyoto is its "most serious weakness."
Many accept Kyoto but are 'wary' of its 'effectiveness'-- Supportive dailies praised the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol as "a victory for the human spirit" saying it "lays the groundwork for stronger measures in the future." Even with its many "shortcomings" they stated that the "Kyoto Protocol carries great significance" as a "small step." Conversely, skeptics saw Kyoto begin with "whimper" because of its "marginal benefits" in helping curb greenhouse emissions. Germany's right-of-center Die Welt viewed it "at best as an expensive symbol for the hope that the nations in the world will tackle global questions together."
Developing countries see 'involvement' in Kyoto soon-- Chinese editorialists wrote that "India and China will be the next targets for...post-Kyoto negotiations." Many Chinese and Indian writers remarked that even though theirs are developing countries, their "governments.... should already be thinking about how to go beyond what the treaty requires." India's centrist Telegraph worried that "India might take for granted its exemption from any sort of environmental responsibility just because it happens to be a developing nation." Chinese writers observed "China will have to face more difficulties if wants to maintain its rapid growth, yet remain excluded from the list of countries requiring reduced emissions."
Europe sees economic 'hopes' in the future-- Many European dailies saw "new markets" related to Kyoto which would assist the EU's economy. Spanish papers also observed that Kyoto-relevent issues like "environmental efficiency, energy savings, and innovation are elements associated with growing economies." European journals forecast "favorable circumstances" in making a profit selling "energy efficient products and renewable energy 'made in Europe'" to the rest of the world as natural resources begin to "dwindle."
With a lack of U.S. participation many see Kyoto as 'jinxed at birth'-- Global commentators "scorned" the U.S. for boycotting Kyoto, which in effect delivered a "massive blow" to the protocol, thus making it "inadequate" to deal with the rise in emissions. Spain's centrist La Vanguardia drew its readers' attention to the "shameful fact that the largest emitter of greenhouse gases...has refused to fight against the increase in the temperature of the planet." The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed "since the U.S. refused to participate, numerous countries doubt whether the treaty could meet the original targets" which many say is the protocols most "serious flaw."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Steven Radwanski
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 52 reports from 22 countries February 13 - 18, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Thinking Beyond Kyoto"
The left-of-center Guardian concluded (2/17): "The most important thing about the Kyoto protocol--which came into effect yesterday--is that it is there at all. It is the first legally binding environmental treaty making a serious attempt to reduce the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change, the most serious problem facing the planet today. Kyoto has serious weaknesses, not least that the world's biggest polluter, the U.S., has boycotted it--though some states are taking effective action on their own--and the second largest, China, has been exempted as a developing country. But 34 industrialized nations have ratified a treaty committing them to slash output of greenhouse gases by 5.2% of their 1990 levels by 2012. This means that emissions will be considerably less than they otherwise would have been."
"Kyoto Alone Is Not Enough To Tackle Climate Change"
The center-left Independent editorialized (2/15): "Another embarrassment for the prime minister is the fact that his close ally, George Bush, is still showing no signs of taking the issue of climate change seriously, despite the fact that the United States is by far the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Whether Mr. Blair will be able to soften the intransigence of the U.S. president will be a key test of how much influence our prime minister really has on the other side of the Atlantic."
The left-of-center Liberation argued (2/16): “Rephrasing a famous saying, it is a small step for diplomacy and a big step for mankind.... The Kyoto protocol's gestation was long and painful.... After 20 years, some politicians--President Bush the first of many--are still not convinced of the urgency of the matter.... We cannot expect miracles from Kyoto, at best it is a first step.... Modern societies are built on the consumption of natural resources, with the U.S. showing the way. The political revolution will be to impose the need to master energy consumption and to base all policies on the need to conserve energy resources. In this era, being conservative is really revolutionary.”
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (2/16): “Things are changing in the U.S. The Bush administration is going to have to come to terms with its isolation on the international arena--something President Bush is familiar with--but also with American public opinion.... President Chirac’s goal is to include the U.S. in the fight against climate change in spite of [Bush's] obvious disregard for this issue.”
Dominique Quinio of the Catholic La Croix observed (2/15): “Victory was not clear from the outset. It took seven years for the protocol to finally reach the stage of implementation.... Of course we can wonder about the actual effectiveness of a protocol from which the largest polluter, the U.S., has excluded itself.... In spite of the many reservations one might have...it would not be fair to minimize tomorrow's event. One hundred and forty one countries have agreed to find answers together.... This form of multilateralism, which President Bush does not want, is really good news."
GERMANY: "What Is The Alternative?"
Sabine Scholdt commented on ARD-TV's late evening newscast Tagesthemen (2/16): "The Kyoto agreement is worth much more than its opponents want to make us believe. Of course, it has its price and cost billions. Of course, it has flaws, and the most serious one is that the United States did not sign it. And of course, it will not stop, only slow down, climate change. But do we have anything better? Is there an alternative to this agreement?... Is there a means to stop the warming of the earth? Let's stop criticizing [the Protocol]. Let's seize the possibilities we have and let's start at home...when building new houses, when driving a car, when buying new fridges. Let's start very simple to save energy, even though these are only small steps. The Kyoto Protocol is only a first, mini step. But we must embark on this path because it is currently the only one to protect our world from the fatal consequences of climate change. We have only this one."
"Clever Climate Coalition"
Joachim Wille had this to say in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/17): "When the bottles of champagne popped up on Wednesday when the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, signatories celebrated one aspect in particular: The U.S superpower did not manage to force its will upon the rest of the world, a will which companies of the fossil fuel industry and backward-oriented industry lobbies control. It was impossible for them to block the approach to use internationally binding agreements to set limits for the emission of carbon dioxide and to turn these even into a means for development assistance. This is not little but by no means sufficient.... We have complained long enough about the United States--to be more precise, Washington--blocking climate protection. Now that Bush and Co. have put themselves onto the sidelines, the moment for climate coalitions has come: the Europeans now have a historic chance and must form coalitions with Japan, that is halfway open to climate protection, and with threshold countries such as China and India, Brazil, and South Africa.... To deliver them advanced technologies, energy efficiency and renewable energies 'made in Europe' is the number one priority now.... At issue are new markets where the Europeans can make a lot of money."
Right-of-center Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung of Heidelberg judged (2/16): "Which is more honest: the U.S. refusal to commit itself to reducing greenhouse gases? Or the grandiloquent European promises which can be kept only by buying climate pollution certificates? Both viewpoints carry a considerable degree of hypocrisy. On the one side, we have the greatest polluters in the world, who defiantly stick to the highest per-capita consumption of oil, and, on the other side, we have the pseudo-environment protectors who, including in Germany, sell the restructuring of industrial production as a giant climate protection program. But, nevertheless, the European attitude is the only one that promises at least the tinge of a chance to get out of the climate dilemma."
"The Experiment Begins"
Joachim Müller-Jung had this to say in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/16): "Will the community of nations, once it has emptied its glasses of champagne, be willing to take these great steps [laid down in the Kyoto Protocol] in view of unclear risks and in view of the necessary proportionality? Much will depend on the recalcitrant United States but also on the growth-friendly Asian and South American threshold countries. Under the leadership of Britain's Tony Blair, the G-8 is now discussing the issue. Blair's steadfast support for climate science, which sees the need and the possibilities to control the global climate and to avert the worst excesses of climate change, should be the basis of activities in the coming years. It is the only attitude that can turn this experiment into a success. Provided, premises are all right and the climate trades will not all of a sudden realize that nature goes its own way despite all attempts to tame it. Then we can only hope that the climate protection plans also include preventive measures that will be able to protect as many peoples as possible from the consequences of an inevitable climate change."
"Wild About Cooling Down"
Wolfgang Roth judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/16): "It is desirable but unlikely that a change of awareness can be reached quickly and smoothly; and this in a world that has not been characterized to a great extent by justice, peacefulness, and the concern about the next generations.... With the Kyoto Protocol, little has been achieved, but without the treaty, it would be nothing.... Unfortunately, the threat is manifest. But neither resignation nor a kind of moral accusation against the climate sinners in the White House would help. Much more convincing would be deeds and evidence that climate protection does not result in economic standstill. There is a ray of hope in Great Britain, Germany, and Sweden where it is no longer a utopia to reach the Kyoto goals. The abolition of the 'fossil era,' i.e., the excessive use of coal, crude oil and natural gas, has started. Some hopes are also directed at China where we will see in an exemplary way whether an emerging nation can succeed in avoiding making the mistakes of its predecessors in the West and the East.... It is possible that the sluggish tanker that started in Kyoto will pick up steam only if the consequences of climate change can no longer be ignored. Then many will be wild at a cooling down, wild at climate protection. Nations that have paved the way for climate protection, will then be in the lead, but they will also be better prepared for the time in which resources dwindle and which create heat for the globe right now."
"Expensive Idle Periods"
Norbert Lossau penned the following editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/16): "No one can really be delighted that the Kyoto Protocol enters into force today. If the most dramatic vision of climate researchers comes true, then the Kyoto Protocol will not help the climate anyway. At best, it will postpone the development for a few years. But on the other hand, the burden on national economies that will cost billions, are in any case real. The investment of these funds in measures that would cushion off possible climate problems would be more useful for the people on this planet. Kyoto is...at best an expensive symbol--for the hope that the nations in the world will tackle global questions together."
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (2/16): "The Kyoto member states cannot be satisfied. The gap between claims and reality is too large. In Europe, Portugal, Spain, and Greece have doubled their carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. The Netherlands, and Italy are miles apart from reaching their [self-proclaimed] goals. The same is true for Japan, and the problem of the threshold countries, which will buy their economic growth by trading emission rights, was simply ignored in Kyoto. And Germany still profits from the decommissioning of many former GDR plants. Thus far, it has not submitted concrete proposals to reach the Kyoto goals by 2012. Ambitious unilateral moves do not make sense when it comes to climate protection. If the Red-Green government is thinking about a 40-percent reduction of greenhouse gases percent by 2020, this is no more than hot air in view of realities."
IRELAND: "Come Clean"
The center-right, populist Irish Independent editorialized (2/16): “The Kyoto Protocol.... Even if every country followed the Kyoto guidelines, emissions would be reduced by far too small an amount to prevent some global warming.... 'Too late' is not an acceptable phrase in this context. In the space of a generation, we should have clean, renewable energy in place of fossil fuels, but meanwhile we must struggle in the face of a crisis created in our own time and earlier.... The world's top polluter, the United States, has refused to come on board.... The U.S. Congress also stands in the way. By comparison with the problems posed by the U.S., China and India, Ireland's role is tiny. But that does not excuse us from meeting our own obligations. On present trends, there is no chance whatever that we will achieve the Kyoto targets for the period 2008-12. If the worst happens, there will be no point in blaming Mr. Bush.”
"Kyoto Protocol -- Ireland Must Go The Extra Green Mile"
The left-of-center Irish Examiner commented (2/16): “The prospect of Irish taxpayers being hit by penalties costing millions of euros should galvanize the Government to honor its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions.... Seven years after pledging to limit greenhouse emissions, Ireland has met barely a quarter of its target. Foot-dragging by Ireland and other states will hardly convince America to sign the treaty. In the interests of future generations, it is time the Republic adopted a more positive attitude to the environment.... Given this country's sadly diminishing image as a green haven, the Government must honor its environmental responsibilities and fully endorse the Kyoto treaty on tackling the crisis of global warming.”
MALTA: "Beyond Kyoto"
The independent Times of Malta observed (Internet version, 2/17): "Will Kyoto knock out global warming? The short answer is no. Many of those who are in favor of the protocol signed last Tuesday have been swift to say this. But they did add that it is a start; there has been international recognition for the need to cut the greenhouse emissions that many scientists claim create global warming. Not all scientists agree the protocol is the best way forward. The optimist must hope that, contrary to much evidence, Kyoto will work. The argument that there is nothing better on the table has a force of its own, but still, the words of the pessimist are also of some account. His point is that words are all right, good intentions too, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with..... In the meantime, Kyoto is a start. Great-grandson of Kyoto may be something else again but when will he be born seeing it took such a long gestation period for his great-great grandfather to emerge?"
NORWAY: "Kyoto Is Just A First Step"
The social democratic newspaper Dagsavisen commented (2/17): “The Kyoto agreement is one of the most complicated and comprehensive international agreements that has ever been negotiated. Even so, it is inadequate.... The need to advance with more extensive measures is extremely urgent if we are going to be left with any hope of reversing climatic changes with human power. The work on a new agreement and on a more comprehensive agreement needs to commence immediately. To achieve results it is also completely necessary that major producers of greenhouse gases, like the United States, China, India and Australia commit to a reduction in their discharges. The earth's global climate does not allow for free riders.... Achieving reductions that truly avail with today's technology requires measures so severe that they will turn the industrial society, as we know it, upside-down: private motoring will more or less have to cease completely; air traffic will be seriously reduced; and employment opportunities will vanish. Therefore, the development of new sources for energy that do not lead to a discharge of greenhouse gases is urgent.”
"Kyoto In Power"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten observed (2/16): “[The Kyoto agreement] is an agreement with weaknesses, but first and foremost it is an agreement that states that both official and unofficial determination along with the power of persuasion can yield results. In a world of many dark clouds, the support for Kyoto is a bright point: that so many countries are getting so far with such a complicated issue ignites hope for the world's ability to make rational, political decisions about joint problems. We can tell that the road ahead is long because developing countries--including some of the world's largest--and countries like the United States and Australia do not form part of it [the Kyoto agreement]. From a historic point of view the fight for the environment and against pollution have just barely started. But, we would like to relate the Chinese proverb that says that any long journey starts with a small step. And we can hope that 1.3 billion Chinese will also find the way to Kyoto.”
SPAIN: "Great Threat"
Centrist La Vanguardia remarked (2/16): "Considering the seriousness of the effects predicted due to the increase of the temperature of the planet, it is surprising to see the lack of awareness on the matter.... Another shameful fact in this regard is that the United States, the country emitting the most contaminating gases, has refused to fight against the increase in the temperature of the planet."
"Kyoto, In Force"
Left-of-center El País took this view (2/16): "Many of the economical sectors that eight years ago did not think that they would have to score their emissions of gases have accepted the measures to contain them, mostly in the European Union.... The defenders of these measures insist that these must not be costly from the economical growth point of view, because efficiency, energy savings, and innovation are elements associated with growing economies."
MOROCCO: "The Kyoto Effect"
The socialist party daily Liberation opined (2/17): "The first country that should reduce its gas emissions is the U.S. After having agreed to the protocol's conditions under the Clinton administration, the U.S. reneged on its commitment with the arrival of George Bush’s team on the scene. The issue of the environment symbolizes the first point of rupture in relations between the U.S. and the world. In this regard, the oil lobby's weight has been the principal reason behind other stages of rupture going on now in American international policy."
The independent, French-language L'Economiste wrote (2/16): "In five, 10 or 20 years, school children everywhere on Earth will learn that the Kyoto protocol changed the destiny of the 'blue planet.' "L'Economiste" (They will ask their teachers to tell them why the U.S., the number one international polluter, refused to commit itself, while at the same time saying that it also wanted to change the destiny of the planet."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Think Global, Act Global On Climate Change"
The national conservative Australian editorialized (Internet version, 2/17): "The Kyoto protocol on climate change came into effect yesterday, but more with a whimper than a bang.... Even Kyoto's supporters concede it will have only a marginal effect on global warming.... The chances of a new agreement once this one expires in 2012 seem remote. None of this is to underestimate the possible consequences of global warming.... Unfortunately...the currency of global warming has been systematically devalued by activists.... It is significant that the most fervent booster of Kyoto is the EU. "Old Europe" will have least trouble meeting its targets: just one more advantage of running over-regulated, low-growth economies.... The biggest bang for the world's greenhouse buck would be, instead of focusing on a capping and trading regime in developed countries, to devote resources to encouraging cleaner and more efficient technologies in the developing powerhouses of north and southeast Asia.... Nuclear power, clean and carbon-free, promises the single greatest answer to climate change.... Kyoto is a sideshow. The real game will be the development and proliferation of cleaner technologies, with attendant cost transfers between the developed and the developing world, where they are most urgently needed. To adapt a popular slogan, on climate change the solution appears to be: 'Think global, act global.'"
"Time To Look Well Beyond Kyoto"
The business-oriented Australian Financial Review opined (2/16): “After a long and unhappy labor the Kyoto Protocol is born today.... Kyoto's science and economics has been challenged, its solutions questioned and major polluters either refused to sign up or refused to agree to binding targets. Russia joined only because the carbon market gave it more credits than debits, which was all about economics and not about climate.... Kyoto is a poor solution to a difficult problem. It is over-ambitious and glosses over uncertainties. Its targets and timetables are arbitrary and by capping emissions and creating an artificial market it makes a false focus for involvement, as Russia discovered. Plus it penalizes developed countries like Australia with energy-intensive export economies. No wonder the [Australian] government risked the world's opprobrium by not signing on.... In the face of climate change and rising demand for electricity and as the rest of the world clamors for Australia's uranium, nuclear power should be back on the agenda.”
CHINA: "Seizing On Kyoto Protocol Momentum"
The official English-language newspaper China Daily noted (2/17): “With the Kyoto Protocol taking effect yesterday, mankind has finally taken a decisive step forward to safeguarding the planet by curbing global warming. It is time for modest celebration.... The unremitting efforts made by the countries to allow this protocol to take effect yesterday deserve our applause. It was their persistence that has helped the treaty survive the pulling out of the United States in 2001.... The United States quit the 141-member Kyoto Protocol on the excuse that complying with the treaty will be too costly and that the global warming theory still needs scientific proof. The negative impact of the U.S. absence from the protocol...is obvious. As the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States' failure to reduce its gas emissions...could nullify the global undertaking. For China, the Kyoto Protocol spotlighted environmental challenges it must meet. As the most populous country in the world and the second-largest emitter, China has a huge stake in keeping its growth momentum in a sustainable way. Ongoing domestic debate on the viability of developing energy-consuming heavy industry as the pillar of the Chinese economy indicated increasing environmental awareness.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Doubts About The Effectiveness Of The Kyoto Protocol"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (2/17): "The Kyoto Protocol, which aims at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and checking rising global temperatures, came into effect yesterday. Since the U.S. refused to participate, people doubted whether the treaty could meet the original targets. The Bush administration already said that the U.S. would put money into studying the issue of global warming on its own, and it would make an effort in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. In other words, all countries actually recognize the threat of the greenhouse effect and they understand that the issue must be resolved jointly.... Since the Kyoto Protocol sparked the interests of all countries, people should not be too optimistic about achieving the target of reducing global temperatures. The reason the U.S. rejected the treaty is that it is not happy about the rapidly developing countries, such as China and India, not needing to bear any responsibility for global warming.... The U.S. is now putting pressure on China. The next round of post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations is going to start soon. By then, China and India will become targets. China will have to face more and more difficulties as it wants to maintain its rapid growth, yet remain excluded from the list of countries requiring reduced emissions."
"Start Of Kyoto Protocol Outweighs Its Flaws"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post argued (2/13): "On its own, the Kyoto Protocol is far from enough to combat global warming, as its supporters admit. But the treaty's first stage...lays the groundwork for stronger measures in future.... Kyoto has its flaws, the biggest being a boycott by the U.S., which generates about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas pollution. Australia has also opted out. Their absence means trade in credits will be slower to get off the ground, and it will take longer to reach the point where the economics favor clean, renewable energy. Australia has nonetheless taken steps to adhere to the targets and invest in some renewable energy programs, and some U.S. states are moving in this direction. But 'Kyoto lite' is less effective than the real thing.... Wednesday's enactment of the Kyoto Protocol has to be viewed as only a beginning. Governments everywhere, including in Hong Kong and Beijing, should already be thinking about how to go beyond what the treaty requires."
JAPAN: "Achieving Reduction Goals Is First Step"
The top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri editorialized (2/17): "Despite the official entering into effect of the Kyoto Protocol, concerns still remains over whether the accord alone will be sufficient to protect the natural environment because the U.S., the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, still refuses to join the treaty. There is also concern that China, India and other developing nations have no obligations under the accord to reduce their emissions. In order to ensure that the treaty serves as a 'historic step' toward the worldwide move to counter global warming, Japan must first fulfill its own reduction obligations set by the protocol. Tokyo's achievement of reduction goals would encourage the U.S. and major developing nations to take part in the accord.... Japan must use every means it can to reduce CO2 emissions, including the development of new energy conservation know-how."
"New Thinking Necessary"
Liberal Mainichi contended (2/16): "The Kyoto Protocol goes into effect today, marking the international community's first step toward protecting the natural environment.... Achieving gas emission reduction goals set under the protocol alone is unlikely to fix problems caused by global warming. A cut in greenhouse gas levels is also essential to curb global-scale climate change. Participation of the U.S., China and India in the accord is imperative. Through technical assistance, Japan would be able to help Beijing and New Delhi, two developing giants, balance economic development and environmental protection. It is also critical for the international community to continue to urge Washington to join the multinational undertaking."
"New International Mechanism Needed"
Conservative Sankei argued (2/16): "The Kyoto Protocol has finally gone into effect. A primary sponsor of the accord, Japan must do its utmost to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions as well as exercise leadership in pushing ahead with a new mechanism to ensure climate change is kept to a minimum. Global warming requires a long-term commitment. We must recognize that generation-long and even century-long commitment will be necessary. Japan should come up with a new reduction system under which the U.S., China and India commit fully to stopping global warming."
"Promote A 'Hundred-Year' Plan To Save Earth"
Liberal Asahi argued (2/15): "We welcome the Kyoto Protocol, which will take effect tomorrow. Expected to help counter global warming, the pact calls on member nations to make long-term and wide-range efforts to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. However, some concerns still remain about the protocol, including the lack of reduction goals after 2013. The absence of the U.S. is also another concern. British Prime Minister Blair...is expected to urge President Bush during the upcoming G-8 summit to join the pact. Prime Minister Koizumi and Environment Minister Koike must also urge the U.S. to participate in the international agreement."
INDONESIA: "Kyoto Protocol Must Involve The U.S."
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (2/18): “The U.S. believes that the Kyoto Protocol is too costly to be part of.... The U.S. also considers that politics and economy are the motives behind the protocol, and that it is implemented unfairly since the limitation is not applicable to countries whose industries are developing very rapidly, such as China and India.... On The other hand, the U.S. objection in the future may be used as a point of consideration that developing countries should also take part in cutting down emissions.”
NEW ZEALAND: "Guess Who Will Pay For Kyoto"
Louis Pierard wrote in Hawke's Bay Today (Internet version, 2/16): "Today marks the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol, a sublimely optimistic enterprise which, it is hoped, will turn back the tide--literally.... Faith in Kyoto's ability to save the planet is just that. Certainly the division in scientific opinion makes it far from certain that a) the scale of climate change can be attributed to human agency and b) that it is in our power to reverse it.... The cozy intentions of Kyoto will stunt the process of industrialization that is vital to the prosperity and survival of the third world.... Even if everyone (including the United States) stuck to Kyoto throughout the century, the change would be almost immeasurable, postponing warming by just six years in 2100."
"Meanwhile, Our Energy Consumption Keeps On Going Up"
Chris de Freitas of the leading, center-left New Zealand Herald observed (2/16): "The Kyoto Protocol, an icon of the global environmental movement, is finally taking legal effect after years of controversy since it was agreed in 1997.... Celebrations have been arranged by environmentalists who believe dangerous changes to the Earth's climate will take place before long unless action is taken now. Prayers for the treaty's success might be more in order, however, since most countries bound by it are not on track to curbing emissions by the required amount, New Zealand foremost among them.... Of the 141 nations that are signatories to the UN accord on emissions, only 30 are legally bound to the Kyoto treaty. Most of the world, including big carbon dioxide-producing countries such as Brazil, China and India, do not have emission-reduction targets, and Australia and the United States refuse to take part. The result is that 89 per cent of the world's population live in countries that are not committed to Kyoto. These same countries emit 75 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide. Realizing the goal of capping global emissions is still a long way off."
SOUTH KOREA: "Greenhouse Gases Control Has Finally Become A Reality"
The pro-government Seoul Shinmun editorialized (2/15): “Although the explosive power of the global pact is somewhat reduced compared to initial expectations, as the U.S., the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases...withdrew from the pact, the Kyoto Protocol carries great significance in 141 other countries, including industrialized European nations, which have taken joint steps to rescue the global environment.... The fact that the ROK recently demanded ‘voluntary reductions’ in greenhouse gas emissions at a UN Climate Change meeting can be seen as being in line with this move. However, we believe that such a move by the ROK is not an appropriate response to the changing international paradigm. As the world's 12th largest economy, the ROK cannot survive on its own and, as such, should seek co-prosperity with the international community. Furthermore, as the ninth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the ROK has domestically witnessed the average temperature on the Korean Peninsula rise about 1.5° C over the past 95 years.... We urge the ROKG to conduct a sweeping overhaul of its environmental policy toward fulfilling its responsibility as a member of the international community while protecting its industries.”
THAILAND: "The World Makes A Start, But With A Long Way To Go"
Commentary in the, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post editorialized (2/16): “The Kyoto Protocol will come into force despite persistent attempts by the governments of the United States and Australia to undermine the climate treaty. This fact should remind us once again that concerted action can yield fruit and that big or small, populous, powerful or frail, each country and each individual has a role to play in redirecting our planet away from its present deadly course. After all, as a great reminder goes, if the world were a huge airplane about to crash, would it really matter that you were seated in first class? The task of taking back the pilot's cockpit from those who have hijacked our plane of a planet must be our number one priority.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Silver Lining"
The centrist Times of India editorialized (2/17): "The activation of the protocol...gives developing countries the leverage required to catch up on the economic front, as they are exempt from the quota deadline that's mandatory for industrialized countries.... Yet, the U.S. and Australia have refused to ratify the protocol.... In fact, from the 'Asian' brown haze over the Indian Ocean to the dark clouds over Bihar, U.S.-supported climate studies have been building up 'evidence' against developing countries, particularly the South Asian ones. It is facile to lay the blame for global climate change entirely on smoke-emitting choolas and methane-expelling animal waste fuels in the Indo-Gangetic plain. The U.S. alone releases more than one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gases. In comparison, China and India put together emit not even one-half of the U.S. figure. America is unwilling to subsidize any economic slowdown at home that might take place if it were to reduce how it is focusing instead on developing clean technology sinks. These measures, however, are not enough to offset the warming process that requires a far more aggressive emissions control policy. The global warming issue has been politicized by big polluter-consumer countries like the U.S. and Australia, who have declined to be part of any international accord on the environment.... The ratification should be seen as the first step towards shifting focus from hunting for scapegoats to promoting cleaner technology and energy conservation, across the board. In fact, South Asia can offer to the rest of the world valuable lessons in recycling, energy conservation and other green practices that are part of its tradition."
"Let Off For Now"
The centrist Telegraph observed (2/17): "It may be too little, but it is perhaps still not too late. The Kyoto Protocol on global warming came into effect yesterday.... Notoriously, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases has refused to ratify. The United States of America will have nothing to do with it because it believes that the treaty would harm its economy, besides being flawed in not yet imposing similar restrictions on hugely polluting developing nations like India and China.... India has been let off this time. But there is a great risk that this might help India take for granted its exemption from any sort of environmental responsibility just because it happens to be a developing nation. There is no reason to rest assured with the fact that pollution is an unavoidable fallout of development for a poor country. Dodging responsibility in a global forum cannot be kept up by India forever, and there is no reason to assume that it will be eternally allowed to ignore the principles that inform the Kyoto Protocol.... The deadly pollution slowly killing Calcutta, and the political apathy that lets this happen, could both do with something like the Kyoto Protocol, sooner rather than later."
"Kyoto -- Jinxed At Birth"
The centrist Hindu had this to say (2/16): "The Kyoto Protocol comes into force on February 16 under circumstances that do not reflect well on policy-makers in many countries.... The United States withdrew from the protocol.... China and India have been exempted from the obligation of targeted reduction in the first phase of the treaty, running up to 2012. Thus the burden of carrying the Protocol...rests largely on the shoulders of the European Union, Canada, Japan, and Russia. The Bush administration, which sees threats to U.S. economic growth...and objects to the exemption of potentially large economies such as India and China...ignores the fact that such exemption is nothing but a form of 'special and different treatment' of developing countries that has been enshrined in the Uruguay Round of negotiations.... By ignoring this reality and keeping itself out of Kyoto, the U.S. has not only weakened a global effort at tackling what is perceived as a major factor behind desertification, floods, and other disasters but has also impaired its own capability to intervene in a positive and desirable manner in the implementation of the Protocol."
"Weather Or Not"
The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (2/16): "This is a momentous day for the health of the planet, as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change finally becomes international law.... But some signatures will be missing from the treaty, especially that of the U.S. Washington seems to be in no mood to change its stand on the protocol.... Kyoto suffered a massive blow in 2001 when the U.S.--responsible for about a quarter of the world's GHG (greenhouse gas) output--pulled out. Washington's arguments were, of course, specious.... The ratification by potential major polluters like China and India further weakens Washington's case. Kyoto's current targets seem modest, considering an emission cut of at least 60 percent is required to prevent the catastrophic impact of climate change this century. Still its enactment, even without the world's biggest industrial power and polluter, marks a big step forward in tackling global warming."
"In The Interest Of This Planet"
The independent Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika of Calcutta concluded (2/16): "The main objective of the Kyoto Protocol is that the countries that have reaped the most profit from industrialization would have to spend the maximum for safeguarding the environment. European countries mainly have taken the responsibility to initially act on this agreement.... The government of India's position that economic development increases pollution has got no validity.... We shall not do anything without a legal directive--India must give up this mentality. If India wants to assume leadership in South Asia in regard to economies and politics, then it should take the lead in the matter of pollution control too."
SRI LANKA: "American Carbon Dioxide"
Independent Tamil-language Thinakkural stated (2/17): "The U.S., which is releases more carbon dioxide (36%) in the world, is not prepared to accept the Kyoto agreement. George W. Bush said this in 2001. The reason is that the U.S. has to spend considerably more if it accepts this agreement. Thirty-nine countries, including the EU, Japan and Canada...have agreed...while Russia...[also] has now agreed to sign.... Since an industrialized country such as the U.S. has refused to subscribe to the Kyoto Agreement now, it will not be possible to include China and India in the second phase of the Agreement which will be subsequent to 2012."
SOUTH AFRICA: "One Man’s Poison"
Balanced Business Day commented (2/18): “President...Bush of the U.S., the world’s biggest generator of greenhouse gases, has been branded the Toxic Texan by Greens after refusing to ratify Kyoto on grounds that the science behind it is flawed and that it exempts developing countries, which are among the worst per capita offenders.... The reality on the ground is not as dire as Green alarmists would have it. The U.S. has also embraced emissions trading, albeit outside the ambit of the Kyoto protocol, and Bush’s pragmatic approach to environmental legislation has seen the U.S. lurch in the same general direction as the Kyoto signatories over the past few years.”
The liberal Witness concluded (2/18): “The effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol may not be fully measurable until perhaps 2012, but the trend towards global warming cannot be reversed in anything like that timeframe. The crisis is real and it is urgent. It is high time that the Americans, always ready to intervene and play the bully when they perceive a threat to their own interests, started to accept the responsibility of true leadership.”
"Victory For Humanity"
The liberal Cape Times commented (2/17): “The entry into force...of the Kyoto Protocol is a victory, at least for the human spirit.... Holes there are aplenty in the protocol. It certainly falls far short of what is needed to really make an impact. But it represents a beginning...[a] worthy example of international cooperation towards averting a global threat. Which makes it all the more puzzling, indeed disappointing, that the Bush administration has chosen to remain aloof.... The U.S. should have led the initiative rather than use arguments about the damage to its economy and weaknesses in the protocol to opt out.”
"Kyoto Ought Not To Fail"
The liberal Star editorialized (2/17): “Will the U.S. assume its international duty and responsibility by ratifying the protocol? It is incumbent on this giant polluter to do so. Before it is too late.”
KENYA: "Why Kyoto Is Vital For Africa"
The independent, left-of-center Nation editorialized (2/18): Which brings to the fore the issue of America’s hesitancy to commit itself to reducing its pollution levels. Naturally, the rich nations of the West fear that to cut down their pollution levels will mean job losses. This is a legitimate concern that should be addressed. But the damage that is being done to the environment is irreparable. Moreover, any ill effects from pollution are not confined within the borders of the polluters.”
"Global Obligation To Kyoto Protocol Vital"
Investigative/sometimes sensational People argued (2/16): "Getting the U.S. to sign up will also serve as a huge boost to the success of the initiative since without its backing, there will be less incentive for other big countries, such as India and China, to do so. At the same time there will be need for even those countries that have signed the protocol, to ensure that they commit themselves to meeting the self-imposed targets."
CANADA: "Canada Needs Energy Options"
The left-of-center Saskatoon StarPhoenix opined (2/16): “The Americans signed on for a cut of seven percent in spite of Congress's lack of enthusiasm. As one of his first acts in office, however, President George Bush announced in March 2001 that the U.S. wouldn't ratify Kyoto because it was economically irresponsible. Even though other nations were quick to criticize Bush for taking the world's single biggest producer of GHGs out of Kyoto, it's likely that the U.S. today is further ahead on measures to address global warming than countries such as Canada, which talk a good game but haven't done much.... With China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, among the largest of the world's developing economies excluded, and with Bush's America opting out along with Australia (which was permitted to increase its GHG output by eight percent), it was madness to expect that Kyoto could do much to address a global climate change. The exclusion of nuclear power as an alternative only underlines the political basis of Kyoto at the cost of science-based assessment of options.”
The conservative National Post editorialized (2/15): "Almost no country is within its Kyoto targets. The Japanese have signed on, but decided not to make their targets legally binding on themselves. The Americans and Australians, although assigned Kyoto limits, have likewise decided not to conform. India, Indonesia, China and Brazil, the largest emitters in the developing world, were never bound by the treaty in the first place, and the economies of Eastern Europe, although initially bound, have been granted an exemption by the United Nations as 'economies in transition.' Even the European Union--Kyoto's most irrepressible champion--is at least 15%.... Even if fully implemented, with the United States participating, Kyoto would delay global warming by a mere fraction of a degree in the coming century. Given how marginal Kyoto's benefits, and how great the cost, we should probably be grateful that none of the protocol's signatories were actually serious about honoring their commitments."
BRAZIL: "Towards Kyoto"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (2/17): “The complicated history of the Kyoto Protocol has been marked by the U.S. boycott of the accord.... Washington’s setback, which could have ended the initiative completely, received a series of international condemnations.... President Bush’s decision also generated reactions in the U.S. and encouraged the adoption of anti-pollution public policies that do not depend on the federal government. The Kyoto Protocol is based on self-discipline.... It may not be sufficient, but it was the feasible accord within a complicated architecture of negotiations that had to harmonize and economic interests with environmentalist concerns that emerged in the global agenda in the 70’s. Despite the deplorable U.S. withdrawal, a nation that is responsible for a quarter of pollutant emissions, the realization of the accord is an auspicious step forward in the attempt to ensure a better future for the planet.”
"It Has Finally Begun"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo economic columnist Celso Ming commented (2/17): “The Kyoto Protocol has finally become effective.... Whoever is concerned about the future of the planet cannot be satisfied. The measures have arrived too late, the fulfillment of the industrialized nations’ measures is unsatisfactory and will total USD 100 billion in investments that could better be used in development policies. In addition, the planet’s greatest polluter, the United States, a nation that is responsible for burning 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuels, refused to ratify the Protocol. As a result, it has confirmed its isolationist posture.... This means that the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol is jeopardized.... Despite that, it is the first time that a comprehensive accord has been reached to stop the predatory action against the environment. It demonstrates that multilateral initiatives to stop the process of environmental deterioration can be successful. The U.S. self-jettison of the accord has a positive aspect. It shows that it is not necessary to wait for the concurrence of the world’s wealthiest, largest polluter and most environmentally alienated nation.... Kyoto is an expensive and questionable response that has produced little result. But it is a step in the right direction.”
"Kyoto Protocol Has Finally Become Operational"
Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized (2/17): “It is not possible to understand the USG position, which prefers to maintain itself separated from the Kyoto Protocol as a kind of guardian of the global pollution that affects all humanity. The U.S. is the world’s main polluter and responsible for almost a quarter of the total emission of pollutant gases that cause the greenhouse effect.... The initiative is an evidence of the growing awareness about the need to preserve the environment for the benefit of generations to come. Fortunately, such a concern also exists in the U.S. despite the Bush administration's posture, and 28 states are adopting measures aimed at reducing the production of pollutant gases.”
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