WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Well, the current situation has a certain amount of momentum,
which means that the warming trend is set to continue in some
degree. However, it will be made worse if we continue to pump
carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the atmosphere at ever
increasing rates, as we are currently doing.
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The World's leaders
have been trying to tackle this problem for some time now. The
key to this is the "Kyoto
Protocol", which seeks to get international leaders to
agree to reducing their national greenhouse gas emissions. The main
stumbling block to Kyoto is national self interest and the principal
offenders are the United States (responsible for 36% of the
World's greenhouse gas emissions), Canada (who have the third highest
per capita emission rate in the World after the USA and
Australia) and Japan (fourth).
Year 2000 Carbon Dioxide Emission Figures
|E.Eur. + FSU
|Rest-of - World
*Tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per capita per year
UPDATED (MAY 2004) You can read a list of the nations who have signed up and
ratified the Protocol at STATUS
OF RATIFICATION 16 December 2004.
There's a new site aimed at encouraging and
helping people to do something about Global Warming at Kyoto
Emissions trading works by allowing countries to buy and
sell their agreed allowances of greenhouse gas emissions. This
means that highly polluting countries can buy unused
"credits" from those which are allowed to emit more
than they actually do. After a great deal of difficult
negotiation, countries are now also able to gain extra credits
for activities which boost the environment's capacity to absorb
carbon. These include tree planting, soil conservation and
burning wood instead of oil or coal and can be carried out in
the country itself or by that country working in a developing
THE U.S.A. AND
George W. Bush,
President of the United States of Greenhouse Gasses.
|On March 28, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the United States
would not implement the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. He said he could not
sign an agreement that would "harm our economy and hurt our workers."
According to the European Commission, instead of cutting
emissions, the Bush administration has initiated policy
changes that could increase its emissions by up
An interesting and informed footnote to this political stand comes from
Greenpeace, who say that the oil and gas industry donated more than $25 million
to the Republican Party in the 2000 U.S. presidential race and add that BP and
Esso were two of the three biggest donors according to Political
Money Line, an independent website that tracks political contributions.
|As a response to a request by the Bush
administration in May 2001, the National Academy of Sciences
has produced a report: "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions"
which is available from the National Academy Press to read
online (click on the link to reach the contents page). The
268-page report, which blames human activities for
climate change, was submitted to the United Nations on 4
June 2002 by the Bush administration. It concludes that
"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's
atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing
global mean surface air temperatures and subsurface
ocean temperatures to rise."
But President Bush has staunchly stuck by his
anti-Kyoto position. Of the report, his comment was that
he had "read the report put out by the
bureaucracy," but added that the provisions of
Kyoto "would seriously damage the American economy,
and I don't accept that." Errrr ..... do the words
"ostrich" "head" and
"sand" ring any bells?
"Hi there, is that the Federal Bureau of
Bureaucracy? I'd like some more of that scientific
toilet paper please."
Meanwhile, a new poll (July 2002) conducted by Zogby
International has revealed that 76% of US voters
believe that the US must act now in order to curb the
effects of global warming and that the best way to meet
the country’s energy needs is “through renewable
energy, energy efficiency standards and more
fuel-efficient cars, minivans and SUVs”.
19 August 2002 - Surprise, surprise! George W
Bush has announced that he won't be bothering to join
the other 106 World Leaders at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa
from August 26 through September 4. George hasn't given
a reason for hiding, he's just sending Colin Powell
instead. All the other leaders of G8 countries will be
attending. Obviously he hasn't the backbone of his
father (George H W Bush), who attended the original 1992
Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. These actions should
signal to the World that the head of the United States
has little or no regard for the future of the World
outside of his own empire.
ENS report that:
President Bush has been under pressure from
Republican Party and conservative lobbyists not to
attend the summit.
A letter to Bush made public Friday by Friends of the
Earth UK shows the nature of that pressure. Dated August
2, the letter is signed by 31 political groups and
individuals. It says “We applaud your decision not to
attend the summit in person."
"Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in
1992," the letter says, "the Johannesburg
Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the
most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in
critical international economic and environmental
issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and
make more credible various anti-freedom, anti-people,
anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas.”
Signatories to the letter include representatives of
seven think tanks that receive funding from oil giant
ExxonMobil, according to figures in an official Exxon
The lobbyists' letter states that “the least
important global environmental issue is potential global
warming, and we hope that your negotiators at
Johannesburg can keep it off the table and out of the
Various anti-freedom, anti-people,
anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas???? It
appears that the old paranoia is alive and well in parts
of the USA and that George W is officially a puppet of
the oil companies.
You can read the full article at
Climate News 2.
All this seems very bizarre in the light of the NAS
report (above) and the fact that the US Governement's
own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website has an
area about global
warming, which states:
What's Likely but not Certain?
out to what extent the human-induced accumulation of
greenhouse gases since pre-industrial times is
responsible for the global warming trend is not easy.
This is because other factors, both natural and human,
affect our planet's temperature. Scientific
understanding of these other factors – most notably
natural climatic variations, changes in the sun's
energy, and the cooling effects of pollutant aerosols
– remains incomplete.
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated there was a
"discernible" human influence on climate; and
that the observed warming trend is "unlikely to be
entirely natural in origin." In the most recent
Third Assessment Report (2001), IPCC wrote "There
is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming
observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human
short, scientists think rising levels of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere are contributing to global
warming, as would be expected; but to what extent is
difficult to determine at the present time.
Not quite an aside, but anyone interested in US interest in the World Oil
industry should view this BBC Newsnight report: The
CIA and Saudi Arabia, The Bushes and the Bin Ladens
January 2004 - the UK Government's Chief Scientific
Adviser, Sir David King, condemned the Bush
administration for "failing to take up the
challenge of global warming" after the White
House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) censored
passages on global warming in a major US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) report last year. A memo leaked
to the US National Wildlife Federation revealed that the
CEQ was trying to force a rewrite of EPA advice on
climate change in its annual report. It is claimed that
the CEQ has "close ties with the oil
industry", which means that there is a huge
conflict of interest in this hugely influential body, putting
the EPA at the mercy of political pressure from the
White House. In an article in the current issue of the
U.S. journal 'Science', Sir David chides the
administration of President George W. Bush for insisting
that more research is needed on climate change when,
"we already know enough about the problem to agree
on the urgent need to address it". He went on to
criticise the U.S. approach of market-based incentives
and voluntary measures, which he says have done little
to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Only 50
companies (a small fraction of the thousands of U.S.
firms with pollution problems) have agreed to reduce
emissions. Of these, only 14 have set goals under the
administration's two-year-old Climate Leaders Programme.
the U.S. General Accounting Office, an independent
research arm of the government, concludes the Bush plan
would reduce overall emissions only 2% below what the
nation would achieve with no federal programme
22 February 2004 - The US Defense Department commissioned a
secret 21 page report on climate change for President
Bush by Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of Global Business Network based in California.
But they don't like what it says! The report was leaked
to the British newspaper The Observer.
The report predicts that "abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies,"
The Observer reported. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
The report, quoted in the paper, concluded: "Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life.... Once again, warfare would define human life."
According to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is already carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020
"catastrophic" shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.
Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. "This is depressing stuff," he said, "it is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat." He added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. "We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years ... the consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile."
Here's the "plausible scenario" that the Pentagon report envisions:
"By 2005 the climatic impact of the shift is felt more intensely in certain regions around the world. More severe storms and typhoons bring about higher storm surges and floods in low-lying islands such as Tarawa and Tuvalu (near New Zealand).
In 2007, a particularly severe storm causes the ocean to break through levees in the Netherlands making a few key coastal cities such as The Hague unlivable. Failures of the delta island levees in the Sacramento River region in the Central Valley of California creates an inland sea and disrupts the aqueduct system transporting water from northern to southern California because salt water can no longer be kept out of the area during the dry season... As glacial ice melts, sea levels rise and as wintertime sea extent decreases, ocean waves increase in intensity, damaging coastal cities. Additionally millions of people are put at risk of flooding around the globe (roughly 4 times 2003 levels), and fisheries are disrupted as water temperature changes cause fish to migrate to new locations and habitats, increasing tensions over fishing rights."
However, The Pentagon has played it's own report
down. Andrew Marshall, an influential Pentagon adviser who ordered the study
to be carried out said: "The Schwartz and Randall study reflects the limits of scientific models and information when it comes to predicting the effects of abrupt global
warming," adding "Although there is significant scientific evidence on this issue, much of what this study predicts is still
speculation." Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net
Assessment and is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.
last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like.
The Philadelphia Enquirer featured a report which
More than 60 scientists - including Nobel
laureates, winners of the National Medal of Science,
heads of leading universities and biomedical research
institutes, and former presidential science advisers -
called on Congress last week to investigate this
disturbing pattern of censorship and suppression.
"When scientific knowledge has been found to
be in conflict with its political goals, the
administration has often manipulated the process
through which science enters into its decisions,"
the scientists said in a statement issued Wednesday.
They're alarmed by mounting evidence that the Bush
White House has, in different incidents, stacked
advisory committees with unqualified appointees,
disbanded panels that provided unwanted advice, and
refused to seek advice. The administration has edited
reports, deleted reports, ignored reports, and hidden
them on shelves.
One of the most vocal critics, Russell Train, head
of the EPA under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald
Ford, says this administration has distorted
objectivity in ways unheard of in any previous
Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the EPA, said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.
He said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office.
He added "This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil
You can read the entire report at Abrupt
Climate Change 2003. If you find that this source is
not available then please try SW
Abrupt Climate Change 2003.
4 August 2004
A study released this morning by the
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states that
residents in more than a dozen U.S. cities "will
enjoy significantly fewer healthy air days in coming
summers as hotter temperatures caused by global warming
speed formation of the lung-damaging pollution commonly
known as smog."
- In the run-up to the US Presidential election Senator Kerry has been praised by environmental groups for his voting record. Yet he appears no longer committed to ratifying the Kyoto targets. His campaign website says:
"When John Kerry is president, the US will re-engage in the development of an international climate change strategy to address global warming, and identify workable responses that provide opportunities for American technology and know-how."
According to a Gallup Earth Day poll (June 2004), the environment ranks eighth among issues the
American voting public worries "a great deal" about
behind healthcare, terrorism, the economy, illegal immigration and unemployment.
In an apparent attempt to woo voters, Kerry appears to have
u-turned, going from his previous support of the treaty, which the US coal-mining
industry claims threatens it's future, to proclaiming
that it is now too late for the United States to achieve the treaty's aggressive targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Oh dear! And there was me thinking that Kerry was the
great hope for bringing America into the fold.
The Nation carried an article about Kerry's mixed
environmental credentials. In it they said:
Because transportation accounts for 70 percent of America's oil consumption, any serious alternative must confront the nation's addiction to automobiles. As Kerry points out, it's impossible for the United States to drill its way to energy independence, as Bush seems to intend: This nation has only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves but accounts for nearly 25 percent of demand. Instead, Kerry says he will "update and strengthen" fuel efficiency standards. But in a potential warning sign to clean-energy advocates, Kerry has backed off what he supported as a senator: demanding that Detroit's vehicles meet 36 miles per gallon efficiency standards. For that stick Kerry now substitutes a carrot: $10 billion over ten years to subsidize consumers, autoworkers and manufacturers as they transition to making and buying fuel-efficient vehicles. Hybrids are the most popular technology today, but Kerry wants 100,000 hydrogen-fueled vehicles on the road by 2010 and 2.5 million by 2020. As for electricity, Kerry will pursue his 20 percent green-energy goal by expanding the government's existing tax credits for wind and biomass to include all forms of renewable fuels. In a proposal likely to play well in critical Midwestern swing states, he touts electricity produced from wind and biomass--that is, agricultural waste products--as attractive cash crops for financially strapped farmers.
All this will be music to the ears of environmentalists, as are most of the positions Kerry has taken on explicitly environmental issues. As one of his first acts in office, he says, he will reinstate the Clinton-era roadless rule in national forests, which Bush has undermined. He will also prohibit logging of old-growth trees, reverse Bush's rollback of the Clean Air Act, ban snowmobiles and jet skis from national parks, boost funding for environmental enforcement and reform the 1872 law that allows corporate miners to pay literally pennies for extraction rights on federal land, which he has called "a national disgrace." Kerry even promises to "promote environmental justice" by reviving the keystone environmental principle of "polluter pays." As such, he would restore the tax on chemical corporations that finances the federal Superfund program charged with cleaning up toxic waste sites, often found in nonwhite, low-income communities. These sites' cleanup slowed to a crawl after Bush refused to reauthorize the tax in 2002.
But Kerry is no environmental saint. He and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, own five luxury homes and an SUV--accoutrements of a high-consumption lifestyle at odds with environmental sustainability. He even told a Missouri audience that buying "a great big SUV is terrific, terrific. That's America." Indeed. Kerry also voted against the Kyoto Protocol on global warming as a senator and continues to oppose it as a presidential candidate. "I would reopen the negotiating process, fix the flaws and move forward," Kerry told Amanda Griscom of the online magazine Grist in his most extensive environmental interview as a candidate. (By flaws, Kerry means Kyoto's failure to require immediate greenhouse reductions from China and other fast-growing developing nations.) He favors expanded investment in biotechnology, anathema to many environmentalists. Bowing to electoral realities in West Virginia and Midwestern swing states, Kerry's energy plan budgets $10
billion to develop "clean coal," a technology most environmentalists dismiss as a
wasteful chimera. And he supports vastly increased natural gas production, including a pipeline to move 35 trillion cubic feet of reserves from Alaska to the Lower 48 states.
25 August 2004 - A new report released today by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), OUR CHANGING PLANET (The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005), "highlights recent research accomplishments and plans for future research necessary to manage the risks and opportunities of changes in climate and related environmental systems" the official press release states. The report to Congress focuses on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades.
The document reports that global warming in the first half of the 20th century, estimated at 0.2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, "was likely due to natural climate variation", including increased solar activity. But the approximate 0.5°C rise over the second half of the century, most pronounced in the last 30 years, can only be explained when factors related to human activity, such as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, are taken into account.
"There's nothing else we can blame it on, really," says Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, where computer simulations produced the result. "If we don't put the changes in carbon dioxide into our models, we don't get global warming out."
What makes this report stand out though, is that it
is accompanied by a letter signed by Donald L. Evans (Secretary of Commerce),
Spencer Abraham (Secretary of Energy) and John H. Marburger (Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy).
Rather important people in the Bush Administration!
in June 2002 Bush distanced his administration from
their own report to the UN ("the report put out by the
bureaucracy" above). It remains to be seen whether
George W will do the same again or whether this
represents the start of a U-turn. Given the pressure
that Bush is likely to come under from his Presidential
Campaign funders in the run-up to the election, I very
much doubt that he will have the moral courage to admit
the contribution that American industry is having on our
You can read the full text of the report at http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/ocp2004-5/default.htm
27 August 2004 - We have an instant answer to that
last question. In an interview with the New York Times, President Bush was asked why his administration had changed its position. “Ah, did we?” Bush replied. “I don’t think so.”
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the study did not change the administration’s position that more research was needed. “The president’s policy is the same ... we need to fill in the knowledge and the scientific gaps,” he said.
In May 2002 all 15 European Union states ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Margot Wallstrom, European Commissioner for the Environment, praised the
ratification as "an historic moment for global efforts to combat climate
change," adding "The European Union urges the United States to
reconsider its position. All countries have to act, but the industrialised world
has to take the lead."
However, carbon dioxide levels emitted by the
European Union, which rose by 0.5% rose again in
2001 by 0.75%, according to new data from the German
Institute for Economic Research (DIW) released in August
2002. According to the DIW report, combustion CO2
emissions rose in 2001 in 10 of the EU 15 member states
and fell in only four:
- Ireland: +5.7
- Finland: +3
- Sweden: +2.7
- Netherlands: +2.4
- Portugal: +2.1
- Germany: +1.6
- UK: +1.5
- Spain: +0.8
- Denmark: +0.6
- Austria: +0.2
Italy managed to stay even with the previous year
while Belgium had the highest reduction with -4.7%,
followed by Luxembourg with -4.4%, France with -1.6%,
and Greece with -0.1%.
January 2004 - On 13 October 2003 the European Parliament issued
Directive 2003/87/EC, establishing a scheme for
greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the
Community, which will cover almost half of the E.U.'s
carbon dioxide emissions from 2005. The trading
mechanism involves countries or companies, such power
plants, which buy or sell "pollution credits"
for hard cash so that a treaty member's overall
emissions goal is met. Governments should hand out most
pollution permits for free, but the law allows them to
auction 5% of permits up to 2007 and up to 10% after
14 August 2004 - Nine European countries have this week signed up to comply with the UK’s emissions trading registry software (GRETA), in time for the 2005 introduction of the Kyoto Protocol-based scheme. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Lithuania, Ireland (EU members), and Norway have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Defra on long term greenhouse gas registry cooperation.
Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are the first countries to formally sign a software licence this week - they will be followed by other countries later this month. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is mandatory for specified industrial installations in the EU by 2005, with trading under the Kyoto Protocol set to begin in 2008.
THE UK AND GLOBAL WARMING
22 August 2002 and Friends
of the Earth UK reports the following:
TONY BLAIR TO SPEND ONLY 5 MINS
It emerged today that Tony Blair could spend just
five minutes on his avowed
priority of saving the planet when he visits the
Johannesburg Earth Summit.
Current plans suggest that the Prime Minister will
not be arriving at the Summit
until just before giving his five minute speech on
Monday 2nd September and will
be back in the UK by Tuesday 3rd.
Mike Childs, Senior Campaigner at Friends of the
Earth commented: "Even Tony Blair can't save the planet in five
minutes. So much for the UK
Government making a great priority of the Earth Summit.
Before the last world
trade ministerial meeting in Doha, Mr Blair flew around
South America drumming
up interest in freeing up trade for big business. In
contrast his five minute
showing in Johannesburg looks like the bare minimum he
can do to get a good
headline without putting in too much diplomatic effort.
If this is the best he
can do, people who care about our environment and about
sustainable development will be deeply disappointed."
19 January 2004 - The British Government says it
will cut its carbon dioxide emissions in excess of its
international treaty obligations. It aims to cut CO2
emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010 and at an
initial rate consistent with a 16.3% cut in the first
phase from 2005 to 2007. The proposals, part of an
European Union–wide scheme, exceed Britain's
obligation under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to
cut 12.5% off its 1990 levels. It has already cut
emissions by about 8%. The government will set CO2
emission limits on around 1,500 installations
responsible for half Britain's CO2 pollution — the
National Allocation Plan — but will allow
companies to trade the right to produce the pollutant
(known as "carbon trading") to help meet their
targets. Some of the main industries to be affected will
include electricity generation, oil refining, and steel,
cement, glass and paper production.
A UK government report, 'Our
Energy Future: Creating a Low Carbon Economy',
released February 2003, found that the costs to achieve
a 60 percent reduction in emissions would average only
0.5% to 2% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP)
Australia is the largest per
capita producer of greenhouse gases in the
industrialised world, emitting more than double the
average rate for industrialised countries. And
Australia's emissions are increasing.
Australian PM John Howard.
|Blowing a Raspberry at
John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, announced in June 2002 that his
government would not ratify the Kyoto protocol, claiming it would "cost
jobs and damage our industry".
Hmmmmm, now where have I heard that one before?
In fact Howard announcing to the Australian
Parliament that it would not be in the country’s
interest to ratify without the inclusion of the U.S.A.
and developing countries.
Howard and Bush.
Apparently the best of buddies.
the USA agreed a bilateral agreement in February 2002,
designed to save them from signing up to the Kyoto
Protocol. Superficially, it payed a great deal of lip
service to environmental concern, but in substance it
contained NO limitations on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Dirty Duo announced (mid 2002) 19 projects (which they cynically
called the "Greenhouse Action
Partnership") falling into five categories, all
concerning information exchange, monitoring, and
research into cleaner generating technologies. It was
merely smoke and mirrors, I'm afraid, but just what
we've come to expect from the World's biggest polluters.
January 2004 - 'The Sydney Morning Herald', reports
that the Australian government has stopped all work on a
scheme by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO). The
government set up AGO in 1997 to look at reducing
Australia's level of emissions, but opposes Kyoto.
Apparently, the Howard government believes the Kyoto
Protocol and its international emissions trading scheme
would be unlikely to come into effect and creates no
incentive for industry to reduce greenhouse emissions.
It appears that some countries will go to any
lengths to abnegate their international responsibilities
in favour of self-interest.
27 August 2004 - Some people in Australian politics are talking sense. Ahead of a meeting of Australia's energy ministers in Adelaide, South Australian Premier Mike Rann said today "The metabolism of the world's modern economy is on a collision course with the metabolism of our planet. Action on climate change is not just about the environment, it is about economics and a future for our children. In the long term, climate change poses a greater threat to Australia than terrorism. For all its flaws we must sign up to Kyoto because is is the only international treaty there is." Mr. Rann also said climate change had the potential to have a major impact on the daily lives of all Australians with changes to agricultural production, increased flooding, increased bushfires, less available water, more air pollution and greater potential for infectious diseases among the risks. He called on Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Mark Latham to commit to a special Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on climate change within three months of the upcoming federal election to set hard targets on emission reductions.
In May 2002 Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien
announced that, as the only signatory to the Kyoto
agreement to export non-polluting energy to a
non-signing country that pollutes a lot (USA), that
Canada should be given special consideration. He went on
to say that Canada was "not in a position to ratify
it (Kyoto) until some of these elements are clarified."
Many commentators were wondering if the Canadian
Government, already under heavy pressure from national
energy producers and business groups to leave the Kyoto
table, was deliberately pushing an idea it knew was
unacceptable as a way of effectively abandoning the
The Boston-based Tellus
Institute released a report on 23 April 2002 which
concluded that Canadian ratification would result in
economic growth for Canada and generate jobs. The report
was commissioned by the David
Suzuki Foundation and World
The report's principal author Dr. Stephen Bernow (vice-president
of the Tellus Institute) is an internationally
recognized authority on energy policy and a past adviser
to the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Energy,
among many others. He stated that “our study concludes
that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not slow
down the Canadian economy or kill jobs. On balance,
industry, workers and consumers will benefit,” adding
“The benefit of implementing these policies to reduce
annual greenhouse gas emissions would exceed the costs.
Our study forecasts the net addition of 52,000 Canadian
jobs by 2012, and a $2 billion addition to the GDP, over
and above the growth forecast in ‘business as usual’
Canadian government projections.”
Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson pledged
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that his
government would submit the protocol to Parliament
before the end of 2002.
Canada finally ratified Kyoto on 17th December 2002.
Now the Canadian Government have even set up a website all
about climate change!
JAPAN AND GLOBAL WARMING
A note of sanity: on 4 June 2002 Japan's Environment
Minister, Hiroshi Oki, announced that Japan will ratify
the Kyoto Protocol, making it the 73rd signatory. Japan's Prime
Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, called for the United States to get
back on board the Kyoto bus. However, news came in on 11 June
that Japan had agreed to renovate a thermal power plant
in Kazakhstan in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions by 62,000 tons per year. "Great!"
you say, "What altruistic chaps those Japanese
are." But the reduction will be added to Japan's
total carbon dioxide emissions, under the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized
countries to help developing counties to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gasses and take the equivalent
emission rights - so they've bought themselves an
allowance to pollute the atmosphere with an additional
62kT of CO2!
August 2004 - Japan will have a difficult time
meeting its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. As the
Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported on
May 17, "According to an estimate by the Economy,
Trade and Industry Ministry, the amount of carbon
dioxide emissions produced as a result of Japan's
consumption of energy in fiscal 2010 will increase by 5
percent over fiscal 1990 levels, despite anticipated
progress in the nation's campaign against global
The Shimbun continued, "According to the
latest report, Japan's energy demand will reach its peak
in fiscal 2021, after which it will decline. CO2
emissions are predicted to begin decreasing in the late
2010s. The report attributes all this to a projected
reduction in the nation's population and technological
and other advancements in industry.
"But in fiscal 2010, the CO2 figure is projected
to still be rising, meaning that it will exceed the 6
percent reduction promised by Japan under the Kyoto
Protocol. The projections state that the amount of CO2
emissions from the civilian and transportation sectors
will increase 20 percent from fiscal 1990 levels,
canceling out the predicted 7 percent reduction in CO2
emissions from the industrial sector."
The Japanese government reported in May 2004 that
greenhouse gas emissions for fiscal 2002 were 7.3
percent higher than the 1990 level.
RUSSIA AND GLOBAL WARMING
- The 2003 World Climate Change Conference was held in
Moscow 29 September to 3 October 2003, but Russia wasn't
playing ball. Russian president Vladimir Putin pointedly avoiding giving any commitment to ratify Kyoto.
Russia has continually hesitated about ratifying the
Kyoto Protocol. With the United States out of the pact,
Russian participation became necessary for it to go into
force. But like the United States, Russia is citing
concern over costs to its economy as its reason for
However, the new E.U. emissions trading scheme should
provide a strong incentive for Russia to ratify the
Kyoto Protocol, as Russia's slumping economy has done
its own part in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
This should provide the potential to earn billions of
dollars in emission credits.
May 2004 - Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to "speed up" Russia's ratification of the protocol, which means it could take effect by the end of the year. That would put Russia in the vanguard of the new carbon trading world.
It is just Russia's luck that the Kyoto Protocol's basis for greenhouse-gas emissions is pegged to 1990 levels. Since then Russia's factory output has fallen and carbon emissions have dropped at least 30%. Russia, therefore, has lots of pollution credits to sell to other
countries — and that could bring the country up to $20 billion in badly needed foreign direct investment for its old factories.
China is the world's second biggest emitter of
greenhouse gases, but as a developing country is not yet
required to reduce its emissions. With China accounting
for a fifth of the world's population, increases in its
emissions could dwarf any cuts made by the
The average Chinese person consumes only 10-15% of
the energy an average US citizen uses, but with the
economy developing at high speed many analysts expect
China's total emissions to overtake America's by
Fossil fuels play a major role - China is the world's
biggest coal producer and oil consumption has doubled in
the last 20 years. The country faced power cuts in 2004
as soaring growth outstripped electricity generation.
However, although no UN figures are available, analysts
say there is evidence to back up Chinese claims of a
reduction in emissions during the late 1990s, largely
due to increased efficiency and slower economic growth.
China's leaders recognise that climate change could
devastate their society and ratified the Kyoto Protocol
in 2002. In 2004 Beijing announced plans to generate 10%
of its power from renewable sources by 2010. But it is
far from clear whether the country would ever agree to
internationally-imposed emissions restrictions.
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