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Kyoto emissions targets prove difficult to meet
Cat : Environment
Date : 2006-10-15 23:43:01                      Reader : 405

But till new remedies are defined, all must respect Kyoto Protocol.

Google News 15/10/2006

Kyoto emissions targets prove difficult to meet

Most of the world's big industrialised nations are struggling to meet the greenhouse gas reductions they committed to achieve in the embattled Kyoto pact on climate change.

The latest figures are grim news for the agreement's supporters, and welcome ammunition for the told-you-so camp in such non-Kyoto nations as the US and Australia.

"I think there was entirely too much blue-sky optimism coming out of the pro-Kyoto planning departments," said longtime Kyoto critic Kenneth Green, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.


"It is becoming clear that the US policy which was based on harder-headed economic analyses is being borne out by what other countries are experiencing," he added.

Pro-Kyoto activists dismiss such conclusions, saying the targets are within reach if nations just try a bit harder.

The UN climate treaty's Kyoto Protocol, negotiated in that Japanese city in 1997 and effective as of last year, calls for an average 5% drop in greenhouse emissions by 2012 from the base year 1990. At a treaty conference next month in Nairobi, Kenya, the Kyoto nations will discuss cutbacks beyond 2012.

A broad scientific consensus is that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. How quickly and badly the climate will be disrupted remains a question.

The US, the world's biggest greenhouse generator, dropped out of the Kyoto accord, complaining that it would hurt the US economy and that such big-polluter developing nations as China and India were not included.

Other nations decided to forge ahead, and the latest UN figures show that as a group the 36 countries committed to the pact can meet the target.

That progress came mainly from a one-time boost in the 1990s, however, when ex-communist states of Eastern Europe cut greenhouse emissions dramatically by shutting down or modernising heavy-polluting Soviet-era industries.

Elsewhere, the situation is more dire.

Among the worst off is Canada, the current president of UN climate change talks, which this year became the first country to announce it would not meet its Kyoto target of a 6% emissions cut on average over the years 2008-2012.

Canada's emissions have ballooned by 29% instead as a result of oil production growing in the tar sands of Alberta.

Japan, too, has a long way to go to meet its 6% reduction mandated by the treaty. If no additional measures are taken, UN forecasts show Japan's emissions will instead grow by 6%.

Aiko Takemoto, an official at the environment ministry's climate change division, noted that the bulk of increased emissions came during the 1990s and emissions are forecast to fall over the coming years.

He said the government's Kyoto Achievement Plan implemented last year would help Japan achieve the target rates by 2012.

Japanese utilities, other industries and the government are also buying ``carbon credits'' in the developing world, where emissions cuts in industrial or agricultural projects can be credited against the Kyoto countries' targets.

"We are sure that we will achieve the target,'' Takemoto said. ``If we judge that the present plan is not enough, we will introduce more stringent measures. We won't give up.''

The European Union, perhaps the biggest champion of the Kyoto pact, is doing better. But even here, the latest statistics are cause for concern.

The EU believes it can meet its target of cutting emissions by 8% by 2012, but only with the full implementation of an emissions trading scheme and two big "ifs".

First, countries including Germany and France must introduce environmental policies that are currently only in the planning stages. Second, many must make full use of carbon credits for investing in clean technology projects in developing countries.

The European Environment Agency said greenhouse emissions increased by 16.2 metric tons, or 0.4 percent, between 2003 and 2004 in the 25-member bloc, even though some member states had drops in emissions.


 
 
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