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Kyoto Protocol proceeds to ratification

By LeftOfCentre in News
Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 07:43:57 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

The ministers of environment of the fifteen European Union states reached agreement on Monday to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as planned. Under the protocol, participating nations are to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5% over the period 2008-2012 from 1990 levels.

The EU states will share the burden according to a legally binding agreement reached in 1998: Austria should decrease emissions by 13 %, Belgium 7,5 %, Denmark 21 %, Germany 21 %, Italy 6,5 %, Luxembourg 28 %, Netherlands 6 %, and United Kingdom 12,5 %. Greece may increase its emissions by 25 %, Ireland 13 %, Portugal 27 %, Spain 15 % and Sweden 4 %. Finland and France do not need to reduce but must make no increase either.

The United States which has one of the highest levels of per capita emissions, and is the single biggest emitter in total figures, agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions by 7 %. Current president Bush has however said the protocol will not be ratified, and has launched an alternative plan based on voluntary cuts which the EU says is likely to actually increase emissions by 30 - 40 % compared to the 1990 level.

More information can be found in a BBC article, a Guardian article, the European Commision press release and the EU's Climate Change website.


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Do you believe that those nations not yet committed to the Kyoto Protocol should join, or pursue alternatives?
o Yes, go for the Kyoto Protocol. It is a good start. 70%
o No, the Kyoto Protocol would threaten the economy. 4%
o No, the Kyoto Protocol is bad for some other reason. 25%

Votes: 70
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o BBC article
o Guardian article
o European Commision press release
o Climate Change
o Also by LeftOfCentre

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Kyoto Protocol proceeds to ratification | 28 comments (24 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
We all know (1.88 / 25) (#1)
by zephc on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 02:21:21 AM EST

that Bush is a massive tool. He and so many like him can't see past their own net worth. Of course, it's been this way a long time. When the revolution comes, they will be the first against the wall =P I certainly hope the 21st century sees changes that helps people move beyond such petty thinking with their total lack of concern for the Big Picture.

I hope... (4.50 / 2) (#19)
by thenick on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 01:09:39 PM EST

That when the revolution comes, people who use emoticons are the first against the wall.

"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler, he did a lot, but don't we all wish he would have stayed home and gotten stoned?" -Dex
[ Parent ]
or (1.00 / 1) (#22)
by zephc on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 09:00:21 PM EST

hey, emoticons are like puntuation for me, it's hard to type a sentence that is meant to convey an emotion without using an emoticon. so go take your elitism elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
Questionable journalism and a question (3.63 / 11) (#2)
by Torgos Pizza on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 02:31:33 AM EST

Doesn't anyone else find it a bit strange that both articles from the BBC and the Guardian almost copy the European Commision press release word for word?

That aside, and while I prepare myself for the onslaught of anti-American posts, it is something to take note. Emmissions do need to be decreased, but none of the links actually say what the voluntary American decreases will be. I don't know if that's because it hasn't been decided or if it was left out. If someone can enlighten me on what any future or current plans on the voluntary actions would be, be sure to post them.

I intend to live forever, or die trying.

Wired's articles on the Bush proposal (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by LeftOfCentre on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 02:44:10 AM EST

I think for these kinds of events where politicians gather to make decisions without TV cameras present, all the media can do is to trust the official press releases.

Wired has some interesting articles on Bush's "reduction" proposal. Some would perhaps say that their article is biased since it reflects mostly negative opinions about the proposal, but this is probably because most comments from environmental and scientific groups who can be expected to be concerned about global greenhouse emissions indeed do seem negative.

[ Parent ]
What exactly *do* you expect? (5.00 / 3) (#21)
by deefer on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 06:18:38 PM EST

while I prepare myself for the onslaught of anti-American posts

Hmm, let me see... Your government withdraws from the treaty, then your president is implicated in a debacle involving the US oil industry... Do you see nothing wrong here? You said it yourself: "Emmissions [sic] do need to be decreased". And *who* is the biggest polluter per capita?

"Go figure" as you might say.

Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

[ Parent ]

Kyoto has a fatal flaw... (3.63 / 11) (#4)
by leviramsey on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 03:07:55 AM EST

I think it's quite obvious that reduction of emissions will have economic costs. However, I think that the real flaw is that it does not adequately reward nations for doing more than their part.

Any child psychologist can tell you that, in order of effectiveness, positive reinforcement (reward), negative reinforcement (punishment), and both positive and negative reinforcement are, respectively, the worst to best means to modify behavior. The Kyoto Agreements really only punish.

The aim of Kyoto is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  • By reducing emissions
  • By increasing removal
I believe that in order to be truly effective, nations should be able to claim credits based on their removal efforts. A major contributor to this removal is vegetation (especially concentrated, like forests). In short, I believe that for every n square miles of heavily forested land, a country should be able to emit an extra quantity of greenhouse gases (as they are effectively cleaning them up as soon as they are released). This provides a major economic incentive to remove massive quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Why, then, is this seemingly common-sense idea not in Kyoto? This is speculation, but Europe has far fewer forests per unit of economic activity, as compared to nations like the USA, Canada, Brazil, and Russia. Because those nations would be a huge competition to Europe in the very heavy-industries (steel, ship-building, etc.) that left-wing politicians in Europe so love, they refused to stand for any agreement which would give an economic advantage to non-European countries, even if that meant a less-efective agreement.

All this is speculation, and maybe a rant, but I welcome the opportunity to discuss this view. I'm going to sleep now, so I'll check back in a few hours (probably 2:00 pm EST-ish).

Forests and such (4.40 / 5) (#6)
by fhotg on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 03:28:20 AM EST

There has been a great deal of discussion and bargaining about which carbon sinks should be valid as "credits" and to what extent. I don't know the final outcome.

You ideas about forests are somehow wrong:
A mature "old" forest is at or close to an equilibrium, carbon-cycle wise. It takes up as much as it emits through decay. So an outcome of a strikt C accounting pertaining to forest would have been to give credits for clearcutting old forests and plant new trees ! Canada for one would have liked this very much.

Of corse, this would encourage very undesired behaviour from a more integrated point of view ("How much carbon flux makes up for how many km^2 of pristine rain forest ?" - duh wrong question)

There is not much you can do in terms of "removal" as you put it. Humans cause emissions, that's where they can influence the system not the other way round.

[ Parent ]

Interesting point ... (4.83 / 6) (#7)
by Ranieri on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:10:48 AM EST

Any child psychologist can tell you that, in order of effectiveness, positive reinforcement (reward), negative reinforcement (punishment), and both positive and negative reinforcement are, respectively, the worst to best means to modify behavior. The Kyoto Agreements really only punish.

I hoped our brave and forwardlooking leaders would consider breathable air and dry feet as a reward unto itself.
If you can't handle delayed gratification, you have no business running a country.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Yes and No (4.33 / 3) (#11)
by Weezul on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:23:35 AM EST

Why should the reward come in the form of increased polution? That seems like a big wide invitation to abuse. Why not give an unrelated reward for positive activities?

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
"Vegging" Kyoto (none / 0) (#18)
by davep on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 01:02:54 PM EST

This was precisely the tactic that the USA delegation used to screw up negotiations during meetings in Nov. 2000, as Clinton was exiting.

For the United States to claim that, since it has vast forests, it should get credits for absorbing carbon, is somewhat disingenuous, since the US already pumps out 1/4th of the world's greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, there are serious consequences to the destruction of the world's forests, especially the tropical rain forests, which are massive carbon sinks, much more effective than the US's second- and third-growth forests.

I could see some kind of reward or credit to nations with forests for NOT cutting them down further, or possibly for planting anew. The goal of Kyoto is to lower the emissions footprint of the highest-output first- and second-world nations, so that developing nations can be brought into the next protocol. This means some sacrifice in some economies, particularly the USA, which has not heard the word 'restraint' used in a non-sexual way since Jimmy Carter was President.


[ Parent ]
It's so good it's used by every justice system (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by SIGFPE on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 03:02:32 PM EST

Any child psychologist can tell you that, in order of effectiveness, positive reinforcement (reward)...
Damn! I must be bad. I've never once gone to court to receive my reward for not committing crimes.
[ Parent ]
atlantis (none / 0) (#25)
by shzzhtt on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:11:58 PM EST

then i should start some oceanic country and cash in, seeing as how plant life in the sea accounts for 80% of the worlds oxygen and increases in proportion to atmospheric carbon dioxide. our nation's motto would be "c'mon, give us your best shot.". now where do i pick up my check?

[ Parent ]
Greece can increase its emissions by 25%? (3.40 / 5) (#5)
by Delirium on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 03:20:24 AM EST

Have you ever been to Athens? That's certainly not a pretty prospect...

Athens is not Greece (none / 0) (#8)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:15:57 AM EST

In poorer countries wealth (and the polution that comes with it) tends to be concentrated in a few cities or regions while less developped parts are clean.
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
well yes (none / 0) (#10)
by Delirium on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:22:45 AM EST

But the vast majority of Greece isn't really inhabitable either. It's mostly either water (peppered with tiny islands) or mountains...

[ Parent ]
Yes, but still people live out of Athens. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 06:08:54 AM EST

The point is that Kyoto allows countries that still need to reach a higher state of development to polute more while countries already developed foot the bill and responsibilit for reducing emisions.
"At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look;
at forty-five they are caves in which we hide." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
[ Parent ]
Nose Bleeds (none / 0) (#13)
by n8f8 on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 05:52:20 AM EST

I took a vacation to Greece back in 1996. We were supposed to spend the first two days in Athens. My nose was bleeding from the pollution by the first night. We imediatly cancelled our reservations, hopped in a rental car and took a roadtrip. We had a great time down in the Penelopenese (sp?). Only other real problem was the lady who wanted $250 for washing two loads of cloths.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
greenhouse gas is different from smog (none / 0) (#23)
by turmeric on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:50:09 AM EST

i'd wager.

[ Parent ]
Denmark tried to stop it (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by LeftOfCentre on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 06:18:21 AM EST

The EUobserver reports in this article that Denmark, itself an EU member, until the last moment tried to convince the EU not to proceed with ratification.

show me the proof (none / 0) (#24)
by shzzhtt on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:03:30 PM EST

that america is affecting the worlds climate.

cause you can't.

that, and i'm sick of people wanting to punish countries who have done well for themselves. you DO realize that in all of these developed nations there are poor people who will be stuck helping to foot the bill, but i suppose that doesnt matter because they're responsible for the corporations doing well, right? so uh, boo on bush for not wanting to throw the american economy at the mercy of the european union.

oh yeah, and does anyone have an article that ISNT from the EU that supports this "30-40%" increase bullshit? i'd really like to know the math on how capping sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury emissions can increase them.

oh, wait. it's since the 1990 level. of course, not like we'd want to use some fair statistics to describe the satan america.

re: show me the proof (none / 0) (#26)
by sal5ero on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 10:44:17 PM EST

oh, wait. it's since the 1990 level

exactly - the same baseline the reductions for ALL countries involved are being held to.

[ Parent ]
Proof? You don't need "proof" (none / 0) (#27)
by bouncing on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 10:02:54 AM EST

I concur with your statement, but I think you're missing this. The Kyoto agreement was not developed by scientists, it was developed by politicans. In the world of politics, it's dubbed as an "environmental treaty" so pointing out its many, many flaws isn't very popular. Here are some compelling questions:
  • Why doesn't the Kyoto treaty treat all Countries the same? Third world countries, the worst polluters, are totally exempt. China, the world's largest polluter, is untouched. Its capital Beijing, the most poluted city in the world (MUCH worse than LA) wouldn't be effected by Kyoto. Why?
  • Why are standards different for even different industrialized nations? Why would America have to lower its pollution dramatically but France has no obligation? Air pollution is a very serious problem in France, and UNLIKE American cities, it's been getting worse (according to a Denver Post article I read on this topic). Wouldn't it be more logical to simply require ALL countries to reduce air pollution to the SAME level?
Compelling questions, wouldn't you say? There are many more. The United States, of all the nations that would have been involved with Kyoto, was required to do the most, and other countries which are much worse polluters are exempt.

I don't always agree with Bush, but on this issue, I'm glad he voted down this non-environment, all-political treaty.

Show ME the proof that this treaty isn't all political.

[ Parent ]
The political angle (none / 0) (#28)
by LeftOfCentre on Sun Jul 07, 2002 at 02:02:13 PM EST

I believe the west will force the developing world, China in particular, to jump aboard eventually. Right now they believe they have more pressing concerns, and I can sympathize with that -- not that it is an excuse not to adopt the treaty later on. But the rich world has to lead the way.

I don't know why France was selected as one of the two EU states that need not reduce emissions at this time, but other EU states -- since they all act as a single block on many issues, including this -- have got to compensate by reducing emissions more than they would otherwise need. The US can surely distribute the reduction among its states, too.

The total EU reduction from 1990 levels is larger than the total US reduction.

You say the treaty is all political. It is -- environmental issues are very important for the electorate in much of the developed world, especially the EU, and thousands of the top scientists from around the world have made preparatory work for this treaty.

[ Parent ]
Kyoto Protocol proceeds to ratification | 28 comments (24 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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