Only One Planet

Page updated 11 January 2005

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
Country
Region
Per Capita
T CO2/p.a.*
U.S.A. 22.04
Australia 17.31
Canada 16.32
Japan 10.16
E.U. (15) 9.06
E.Eur. + FSU 7.19

 

Country
Region
Per Capita
T CO2/p.a.*
France 7.04
World Average 3.85
China 1.98
Brazil 1.87
India 0.95
Rest-of - World 2.09

 

*Tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted per capita per year

 NEWLY 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.

 NEW  There's a new site aimed at encouraging and helping people to do something about Global Warming at Kyoto Action

 NEW  EMISSIONS TRADING
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 country.

 

Read about Global Warming and: USA
Europe
UK
Australia
Canada
Japan
Russia
China
THE U.S.A. AND GLOBAL WARMING
George W. Bush
 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 to 30%.

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 (USA) 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?
"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 document.
http://www2.exxonmobil.com/files/corporate/public_policy1.pdf

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 spotlight.”

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?

Figuring 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.

Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental 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 activities."

In 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.

However, 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 whatsoever!!!

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.

Only 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 stated:

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 administration.

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 companies."

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.

 NEW  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."

 
John Kerry  NEW  August 2004 - 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."
Bush and his environmental headache

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.

 NEW  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!

Back 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 climate.

You can read the full text of the report at http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/ocp2004-5/default.htm

 NEW  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.

EUROPE AND GLOBAL WARMING
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%.

 NEW  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 that.

 NEW  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 SAVING PLANET?

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) in 2050.

AUSTRALIA AND GLOBAL WARMING
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
Australian PM John Howard.
Blowing a Raspberry at Kyoto
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.

Howard and Bush.
Apparently the best of buddies.
Australia and 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.

 NEW  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.

CANADA AND GLOBAL WARMING
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 treaty.

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 Wildlife Fund.

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!

 NEW  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 warming."

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
Putin January 2004
- 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 staying out.

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.

 NEW  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 AND GLOBAL WARMING
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 industrialised countries.

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 mid-century.

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.

 

Read the latest main Climate Change News here :

Climate Change News 1 (18 July 2002)
Climate Change News 2 (19 August 2002)
BBC Climate Change Ongoing

 
 

 

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This page last updated: 11 January 2005