March 28, 2006

Blair cooling on green targets for Kyoto successor (Philip Webster in Auckland, Mark Henderson and Lewis Smith, 3/29/06, Times of London)

TONY BLAIR was accused last night of caving in to American pressure by proposing a watered-down replacement for the Kyoto Protocol that relies on new technology rather than binding greenhouse gas cuts as the solution to climate change.

The Prime Minister will call today for a new international goal of stabilising temperatures and carbon emissions at present levels when the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012, to be achieved primarily by investment in cleaner energy technologies. […]

Mr Blair’s proposal, which comes as the Government admitted that it would miss its pledge to reduce carbon dioxide output by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010, will be laid out in a speech to a climate change conference in Wellington, the New Zealand capital.

When George Bush co-opted India, China, Japan and Australia it was the end of Kyoto for all but fanatics.



December 10, 2005

U.S., Under Fire, Eases Its Stance in Climate Talks (ANDREW C. REVKIN, 12/10/05, NY Times)

The United States dropped its opposition early Saturday morning to nonbinding talks on addressing global warming after a few words were adjusted in the text of statements that, 24 hours earlier, prompted a top American official to walk out on negotiations. […]

The United States and China, the world’s current and projected leaders in greenhouse gas emissions, still refused to agree to mandatory steps to curtail the emissions as the talks drew toward a close early Saturday. […]

The walkout, by Harlan L. Watson, the chief American negotiator here, came Friday, shortly after midnight, on what was to have been the last day of the talks, during which the administration has been repeatedly assailed by the leaders of other wealthy industrialized nations for refusing to negotiate to advance the goals of that treaty, and in which former President Bill Clinton chided both sides for lack of flexibility.

At a closed session of about 50 delegates, Dr. Watson objected to the proposed title of a statement calling for long-term international cooperation to carry out the 1992 climate treaty, participants said. He then got up from the table and departed. […]

In the end, though, some adjustments of wording – including a shift from “mechanisms” to the softer word “opportunities” in one statement – ended the dispute.

In Washington, Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman, said the administration was determined to achieve greenhouse-gas reductions not through binding limits but through long-term work to develop cleaner technologies.

“If you want to talk about global consciousness,” he said, “I’d say there’s one country that is focused on action, that is focused on dialogue, that is focused on cooperation, and that is focused on helping the developing world, and that’s the United States.”

There were still a few more details involving Russia that were being worked on, but delegates and participants among the 9,000 people in the halls were confident the overall deal would hold.

The amount of progress is still achingly slow, many environmentalist say. The world’s major sources of greenhouse emissions – the United States, big developing countries like China and India, and a bloc led by Europe and Japan – remain divided over how to proceed under both the 1992 treaty and the Kyoto Protocol, an addendum that took effect this year.

The original treaty – since ratified by 189 nations, including the United States – has no binding restrictions. The Kyoto pact does impose mandatory limits on industrialized nations, but they do not apply to developing nations, including China and India. The United States and Australia have rejected that pact.

On Friday, countries bound by the Kyoto Protocol were close to agreeing on a plan to negotiate a new set of targets and timetables for cutting emissions after its terms expire.

But under pressure from some countries already having trouble meeting Kyoto targets, the language included no specific year for ending talks on next steps, instead indicating that parties would “aim to complete” work “as soon as possible.”

Let them talk all they want so long as we don’t surrender any national sovereignty.


October 19, 2005

Tables may be turned on US over Kyoto (Lisa Plit, 9/29/05, Business Day)

ALTHOUGH the US, the world’s leading carbon polluter, remains outside the Kyoto Protocol, its hand could well be forced in the not too distant future. Having declined to ratify Kyoto, the US is not obliged to meet the emission reduction targets the protocol lays down, ostensibly on the grounds that it would hurt the US economy.

By staying out, the US could gain significant economic advantage over its industrialised counterparts that are party to the protocol as they will, in the short term, incur major implementation costs.

Not surprisingly, these countries are so peeved that they may turn to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, predecessor to the WTO, contained a provision that could be used to provide some protection for the environment. It recognised that, in exceptional circumstances — including the need to protect human, animal or plant life or health, and to conserve exhaustible natural resources — international trade could be

The WTO founding documentation states that while “trade and economic endeavour should be conducted with a view to raising standards of living”, it should allow “for the optimal use of the world’s resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development”. It should also seek to protect and preserve the environment and enhance the means for doing so “in a manner consistent with their respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development”.


September 25, 2005

Why Kyoto will never succeed, by Blair (Patrick Hennessy and James Langton, 25/09/2005, Daily Telegraph)

Tony Blair has admitted that the fight to prevent global warming by ordering countries to cut greenhouse gases will never be won.

The Prime Minister said “no country is going to cut its growth or consumption” despite environmental fears.

Mr Blair’s comments, which he said were “brutally honest”, mark a big environmental U-turn and will dismay Labour activists. […]

His remarks, unreported at the time but now published in a transcript of the conference, are certain to spark wide-ranging criticism that he is again signing up to the agenda of President George W Bush. Under Mr Bush, the US has consistently refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

Wonder if he used the same shiv with which he dispatched the EU?