COP3—Kyoto Protocol Climate Conference
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1997, at the Conference of Parties III (COP3), Kyoto, Japan, the Kyoto conference on climate change took place. There, developed countries agreed to specific targets for cutting their emissions of greenhouse gases. A general framework was defined for this, with specifics to be detailed over the next few years. This became known as the Kyoto Protocol.
The US proposed to just stabilize emissions and not cut them at all, while the European Union called for a 15% cut. In the end, there was a trade off, and industrialized countries were committed to an overall reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases to 5.2% below 1990 levels for the period 2008 - 2012. (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its 1990 report that a 60% reduction in emissions was needed...)
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Big Businesses on the Defensive
Leading up to the conference, during it, and since, big corporations with financial interests at stake have had a lot of influence in the outcome and on the media3. A lot of primarily industry arguments against the Kyoto conference and Global Warming in general, claim that it will hurt4 the global (or USA's) economy and affect people's jobs.
Some of the well-respected scientists claiming that Global Warming is a myth5 have been sponsored in some way by various commercial interests as well.
Yet as the Kyoto Climate Change Conference ended in what Greenpeace has termed "a tragedy and a farce", the planet's temperature continues to rise.
Washington Reluctant to Sign the Protocol
At the end of March 2001, U.S. President George Bush said that he "opposed the Kyoto Protocol." One of the reasons he cited was because India and China would not be subject to Kyoto measures and would increase their emissions. Yet he ignored6 that on a per capita basis, India and China's emissions are far less than the United States, which is the worst. Furthermore, the U.S. for over 20 to 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, for just 4 to 5 percent of the world's population. Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment provide quite an explosive critique of Bush's claims:
Also, China has taken steps to reducing8 its carbon emissions.
Economic fears9 were also cited. Business interests, as mentioned above have constantly resulted in strong lobbying in Washington, as well. Bush's announcement resulted in almost world-wide condemnation and many pointed to Bush's controversial election which included backing and contribution of millions of dollars10 by the oil industry, as factors in this decision.
In February 2002, Bush has proposed a different means to address Climate Change instead of following the Kyoto plans, which again met with the same criticism11. An interesting thing to note has been his Administration's play on words, saying green house gas intensity will be reduced, rather than emissions. Professor of economics, Paul Krugman from M.I.T., points out the issue in an op ed in the New York Times:
This despite pressure13 for many years on Washington to sign the Kyoto Protocol when over 36 countries, including all members of the European Union have already signed.
USA is the most powerful and influential country in the world (and incidentally, the worst polluter). However, the Republicans and business industry have always been opposed14 to the convention. (The United States have also failed to ratify the Biodiversity Convention and have been openly hostile towards most international agreements involving the United Nations or its affiliates).
The business lobby in USA is extremely powerful and is afraid of the economic ramifications of this treaty. There were huge propaganda events and advertisements by Congress and by the Global Climate Coalition15 (a group of large businesses concerned at their bottom line if the Kyoto Protocol was signed), making it harder for Washington to sign.
The Global Climate Coalition has recently seen some of its prominent members drop out, such as Shell and BP, who, for example, are trying to adapt their images to energy companies, not just petroleum companies. Others who have pulled out include Ford, Dupont, Daimler Chrysler, Texaco, General Motors. An additional reason for pulling out of the Coalition has been due to their images suffering by staying in there. However, a number of these companies have promised to help reduce emissions and take other steps to help tackle climate change.
Also, the US wishes to suggest an emission trading policy instead of the suggested policies of the Kyoto protocol. However, it has been criticized as an ineffective and inequitable system17.
For more information, although there are hundreds of sites out there, I would suggest the following as starting places:
- The Official Kyoto Climate Change web site18.
- Friends of the Earth:
- Section21 on climate change.
- Their summary of the conference22 is very good.
- Archive23 of their news reports
- Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment24 has some information of interest:
- Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction
- UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action
- Action on climate change is cheaper than inaction
- Global Warming, Spin and Media
- Climate Justice and Equity
- Climate Change Flexibility Mechanisms
- Carbon Sinks, Forests and Climate Change
- Climate Change Affects Biodiversity
- Global Warming and Population
(Note that listed here are only those hyperlinks to other articles from other web sites or elsewhere on this web site. Other sources such as journal, books and magazines, are mentioned above in the original text. Please also note that links to external sites are beyond my control. They might become unavailable temporarily or permanently since you read this, depending on the policies of those sites, which I cannot unfortunately do anything about.)
- 'China Cuts Greenhouse Gases, Contradicting U.S.', Yahoo! News, November 29, 2001, http://www.globalissues.org/article/305/china-cuts-greenhouse-gases-contradicting-us
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