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Kyoto: Under attack from all sides

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Kyoto: Under attack from all sides


One could say the road to global warming is paved with good intentions. The Kyoto Treaty is just one of those promises that has so far failed to be kept. And, as time passes, the earth’s natural treasures continue to be placed under threat by climate change. In 1997, when the treaty came to life, hopes were high that damage to the environment could be reversed. Industrialised nations said they would reduce their emissions of harmful gasses by at least five per cent, compared to 1990 levels, by 2012.

Seven years later and the Russian parliament finally ratified the stalled treaty, giving it a much-needed lease of life. In return for backing Kyoto, the EU offered to give its support to Moscow’s bid for membership of the World Trade Organisation. The Russians may have had political as well as economic motivations but their weight tips the balance for Kyoto. It has now been signed by 55 countries emitting 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. But that is by no means the end of the story. The United States pulled out of the Kyoto protocol in 2001 and shows no signs of ever signing up. Washington’s argument is twofold. The agreement will hurt the US economy, it says, adding that its text is flawed because it does not force developing countries like China and India to meet specific targets. By 2025 these new polluters are projected to produce more harmful gasses than developed countries. Climate scientists are also divided over the protocol. Some say it establishes a valuable framework for future greenhouse gas reduction. Others argue it barely scratches the surface of the problem and that harmful emissions need to be cut by up to 60 percent if we are to avoid the consequences of global warming.
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