Is Kyoto Dead?
Do the world's governments have a plan on global warming?
After today the answer may be no, according to reports coming out of the world conference on climate change in Montreal. The conference, largely uncovered in the U.S. media, was intended to develop global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions after 2012, the end date of the Kyoto Protocol. The Bush administration has rejected the Kyoto protocol saying it would hinder economic growth.
The latest news reports out of Montreal indicate that the United States and Australia don't want to participate after 2012 as well.
Yesterday, the Winnipeg Sun reported that the talks were foundering, with hopes for a last minute breakthrough stoked only by a last-minute unofficial appearance today by former President Bill Clinton.
Today, The Guardian reported that "that the US had rejected a deal to start talks outside the Kyoto track between developed and developing countries to discuss future action on climate change."
"If the US insists on rejecting even the discussion of future action by all countries, it could stop Japan and others from agreeing to develop a new round of emission cuts by industrialised countries," potentially killing off the prospects of" a continuation of the Kyoto process.
The Kyoto Protocol is "almost buried," Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell told the Sydney Morning Herald today.
"Speaking at the United Nations summit on climate change, Campbell said other countries had realised that Australia and the US were right not to ratify the protocol, and he predicted the system for setting targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reductions could be scrapped after 2012, when most industrialised countries have agreed to reduce their emissions," the SMH reported.
"A number of [countries] are saying 'Look, we made a mistake. We don't think that it's worth opening up a new negotiation about a future commitment when the commitments we have today are looking so unreasonable'," Campbell said.
Campbell did not identify those countries. In fact, Australia and the United States were alone in making that argument.
South Africa's Mail and Guardian reported that the South Africa delegation has been leading the push by 77 less developed countries and China for more concessions on greenhouse gas emissions.
"In the opposing camp, Japan and the European Union were looking for concessions from developing countries, particularly rapidly industrialising countries such as South Africa, Brazil, India and China," the MG reported.
Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, host of the conference, chided opponents of the Kyoto Protocol, saying, "climate change is a global challenge that demands a global response, yet there are nations that resist, voices that attempt to diminish the urgency or dismiss the science, or declare, either in word or in indifference, that this is not our problem to solve. Well, it is our problem to solve."
The Times of London said the prospective demise of the Kyoto treaty was not a tragedy but "a success," while former British environment secretary Stephen Byers told The Independent, "If phase one of Kyoto comes to an end without an adequate successor, our ability to avoid dangerous climate change will be dramatically diminished."
In the U.S. National Public Radio was one of the few media outlets to dedicate significant coverage to the Montreal gathering.
The conference wraps up today.
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