Kyoto Protocol Takes Effect Today

MSNBC carries a February 16, 2005 AP report entitled Climate treaty takes effect, but will it matter?, with good coverage of the Kyoto Protocol (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) which takes effect today in the 141 nations which have ratified the treaty. The USA is a signatory but has not ratified the protocol. The EU ratified the Kyoto Protocol on May 31, 2002.

What effect will this treaty have on the EU?

EU efforts to reduce gas emissions began formally in 2000 with ECCP, the European Climate Change Programme. The European Union accounts for 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions and effective January 1, 2005 has implemented an emissions trading market, the EU ETS (European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme) based on Directive 2003/87/EC.

The EU is targeted to cut emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Critics of the Kyoto treaty are sceptical that it will be effective citing to signatories such as Spain and Portugal whose emissions by 2002 were already 40.5 percent above the baseline 1990 levels. Much has been made of the US failure to ratify the treaty, but U.S. emissions are up by only 13.1 percent during the comparable period.

Meeting emission requirements will be easier for the newer Member States of the European Union. Due to the widescale collapse of Soviet industries, East European emissions are down substantially from Soviet-era levels.

Developing nations who are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol do not have to abide by its GHG (greenhouse gases) emission guidelines. Rather, they are “expected to benefit from transfer of technology and additional foreign investments into sectors like renewable energy, energy generation and afforestation project when the Kyoto Protocol comes into force.”

One of the arguments of the USA is that if the developed countries strive to reduce their emissions, production will shift to the developing countries who are not bound by the dictates of the Kyoto Protocol. There is no question that this is a problem, but you have to start somewhere. Our solution would be to put severe “emission tariffs” on products made in countries which are not ratifying signatories to the Kyoto Protocol and/or which are not abiding by its dictates, including the developing countries. Pollution is pollution no matter whether you are rich or poor.

Useful links on the Kyoto Protocol are:

Kyoto Protocol Celebrations and Activities

Pew Center – Global Climate Change

CAN Europe – Climate Action Network Europe

New Scientist on Climate Change

Crossposted to EU Pundit.