16 February 2005

Kyoto Protocol is about to make waves

Rejected by the United States, the world's plan to combat global warming goes into force on Wednesday amid scant fanfare and United Nations warnings that it is only a tiny first step.

The 141-nation Kyoto Protocol aims to brake a rise in temperatures widely blamed on mounting human emissions of heat-trapping gases that could trigger droughts and floods, raise sea levels and wipe out thousands of species by 2100.

Yet even some backers of the pact, which will be feted on Wednesday mainly in the Japanese city of Kyoto where it was signed in 1997, seem to be lacking enthusiasm.

Many nations, including Spain, Portugal and Ireland, are far above targets for cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases. Britain is in a legal dispute with the European Commission over London's easing of goals for industry and Italy is fretting about costs.

And the United Nations says that fighting climate change will be a long, hard slog.

"Kyoto is without doubt only the first step," Klaus Toepfer, head of the UN Environment Programme, told Reuters. "We will have to do more to fight this rapid increase in temperature on our wonderful blue planet. It will be hard work."

"But if you calculate the cost of acting against the cost of not acting you will see this is the best return on investment you ever had," he said.

Kyoto sets legally binding goals of cutting rich nations' emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.


Post a Comment

<< Home