International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

December 15, 2003

December 15, 2003





**  Russia's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol would mean its "clinical death."


**  Putin is holding the protocol "hostage" while looking for the "best deal" for Russia.


**  Both proponents and opponents of emissions controls look beyond Kyoto.




A Russian withdrawal from Kyoto would 'torpedo' the agreement--  Global editorial writers viewed Russian "vacillation" on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases as a matter of "life and death" for the agreement.  They noted that the protocol needs Russian ratification to come into effect; without Russia "the entire framework that was laboriously at risk of dissolving."  Conflicting announcements from the Kremlin about whether Russia would or would not ratify the protocol left one British observer feeling that the Russians "were playing roulette with the world's climate."  A leftist German daily claimed that President Putin "is taking climate protection hostage."  While some outlets like Russia's reformist Isvestiya concluded Kyoto "may just as well be pronounced dead," others held the agreement to be "in a coma" awaiting a final decision from Moscow.


The Kremlin has decided to 'raise the stakes'--  Papers in Western Europe and Argentina speculated that Putin was being "coy" to get "the best deal" for Russian participation.  The Russians "are analyzing obtain as much as they can," one writer opined.  Sweden's conservative Svenska Dagbladet observed that "cynics say that the Russians are just trying to push up the price" for tradable CO2 emission rights--or were no longer interested, since the likely "biggest buyer" of those rights--the U.S.--had backed away from the treaty.  Other papers said the Russians were cooling to Kyoto because heady economic growth would leave them facing emissions restrictions "in the near future."  A center-left Irish outlet contended Putin "is using ratification of Kyoto as a bargaining chip" in negotiations for entry to the WTO.


'Something can be done' about global warming--  Commentators in Europe mostly decried the possible end of the Kyoto Protocol, saying "there is no alternative" to the "only international response so far to global warming."  Some charged that President Bush "has spared no effort" in trying to stop it from coming into effect, saying Bush "showed his sympathy for the oil industry" by withdrawing from the treaty.  Other broadsheets, like the Netherlands' influential, independent NRC Handelsblad, judged that "we should not be overly regretful concerning the end of the climate protocol," the costs of which in reduced economic growth "far outweigh" the expected benefits.  Writers in Europe also pointed out that the EU's performance in reducing greenhouse gases was "light years away" from its promises, adding that it was "high time" to start planning a way to combat global warming "without Kyoto."  Several Canadian papers echoed that idea, calling for a "clear and achievable plan" to reduce Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions regardless of the protocol's future.


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 34 reports from 16 countries, December 3-8, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. 




BRITAIN:  "Kyoto:  There Is No Alternative"


The center left Independent editorialized (12/7):  "The future of the planet now rests in the hands of three people:  President George Bush, President Vladimir Putin--and the unlikely figure of one Aubrey Meyer, a former concert violinist from east London.  President Bush has set out to kill the Kyoto Protocol.  Despite growing support in the U.S. for addressing climate change, he has spared no effort in stopping it coming into effect.  He is putting the screws on President Putin.  Under the protocol's rules, it now only needs Russia's ratification to come into force.  The signals from Moscow are mixed, but Putin is thought to be waiting to see whether the U.S. or the European governments, who support Kyoto, will come up with the best price.  And Mr. Meyer?  He is the still relatively unknown originator of a body that is fast becoming the leading contender in the fight against global warming, after Kyoto.  To that end, he has set up the Global Commons Institute.  Michael Meacher, the former Environment minister, endorses the plan--dubbed 'contraction and convergence'....  The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the World Council of Churches, and African governments have all adopted it.  Under the plan, every person on the planet would have the right to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide, which is the main cause of global warming.  Each nation would be set quotas, adding up to a figure the world's climate could tolerate. They would be expected to meet them, say by 2050, and could buy and sell parts of them.  Kyoto must first be brought into force:  there is no alternative.  Then nations should start negotiating bigger cuts in pollution on this equitable basis--worked out in an unprepossessing London flat."


 "The Kyoto Protocol And A Deadly Game Of Russian Roulette"


Michael Meacher wrote in the center left Independent (12/7):  "At times last week it looked as if the Russians were playing roulette with the world's climate....  The disagreement in the Russian government is worrying....  President coy, either because he is waiting to get the best deal or because growth of 7-10 per cent a year since 1999 has increased Russian CO2 it might instead face restrictions [in the near future].  The U.S. and Australia...seem likely to remain outside the [Kyoto] protocol as long as the Bush administration lasts....  Developing nations have made it clear they will not take on the targets until the industrialized countries, who initially caused the problem, take effective action.  That is serious because developing countries' emissions are growing four times as fast as those of the OECD, and will overtake them within 5-7 years....  Trading of [emissions] entitlements could safely occur as the most efficient means to achieve it.  Will it happen?  Not if the U.S. can stop it, but if the EU and developing nations forged a voluntary partnership--a 'coalition of the virtuous'--they could create a viable strategy to confront global warming.  As someone once said, there is really no alternative."


"Kiboshing Kyoto"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (12/3):  "Kyoto is the only international response so far to global warming.  Its basic framework, partly inspired by the U.S., deserves to be maintained so that one day it can accommodate the U.S., the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases....  But something has to be done about global warming....  Certainly technology is vital, and the U.S. record of innovation is unparalleled.  But left to itself the market does not factor in environmental costs.  Only something like Kyoto-style compulsory ceilings on emissions and trading of carbon permits can provide sufficient incentives to spread new technology."


GERMANY:  "Toxic Texan"


Moritz Schuller had this to say in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (12/5):  "Unfortunately, there is no doubt that President George W. Bush is an environmental policy disaster, in a literal sense a 'toxic Texan.'  U.S. energy consumption is scandalous and Bush's connections with U.S. industry are well-documented.  But it is likely that he will be re-elected.  This outlines the prospect for the Kyoto Protocol to be ratified, even though it can only be a small step in the direction of climate control.  Bush's dislike of multilateral projects and processes is obvious.  But when it comes to Kyoto and the ICC, imperial ideology is probably less involved than down-to-earth interests.  This is something we should understand.  Would Germany sign an international treaty in which it would have much to lose?  Probably not.  Multilateralism is not a political goal but a means to achieve a certain end.  We have witnessed it:  Germany breaking the Stability Pact of the EU.  So please do not talk about multilateral ideas."


"Greenhouse Dangers And Politicians"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung noted (12/5):  "The consequences and the dangers of the greenhouse effect should be well known.  But what do politicians do to counter them?  First of all, they did not believe in the results of scientific research and assumed a wait-and-see attitude.  Then, when the consequences became obvious, they finally got their act together and reached an agreement in Kyoto in 1997, which was supposed to limit the emission of gases damaging the climate.  It is true that environmentalists have always complained about the lax goals of the Kyoto Protocol, but this agreement sent a impressive signal to the world.  But this painstakingly unity of the global nations did not last very long:  four years later, the United States withdrew from the Protocol because President Bush did not think too much of climate protection, but showed his sympathy for the oil industry."


"Kyoto In A Coma"


Wolfgang Roth judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/4):  "Is the Kyoto Protocol really dead because Russia and the United States refuse to ratify it?  There are two groups which make this judgment:  those who have always rejected this negotiating process and those who set their hopes too high....  And those who only pinned their hope on the negotiating process have always been on the wrong track.  Evidence of this is not only COP 9 in Milan where all sides involved are trying to reach unanimity in hundreds of detailed question.  The result will be meager because again everything is linked to everything else.  The blockade can be broken open only through alliances among states and state conferences on one issue like the one planned in Bonn next year where the issue will be renewable energy.  As cynical as it may sound, it may be possible that change will come about only if the implications of climate change are so obvious that no one can any longer deny it....  As wrong as it is to cling to the Kyoto Protocol, as wrong would it be to declare the international process to be dead.  A treaty that intervenes to such an extent in national economic structures and has, at the same time, such global effects, cannot be created overnight.  We should see it that way:  Kyoto lies in a coma, but it can be revived any time."


"Russian Poker Game"


Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf held (12/4):  "Russia's maneuvering concerning the Kyoto Protocol has to do with all kinds of things--apart from Russian climate protection policy.  The collapse of the Soviet economy in 1991, reduced the emission of greenhouse gases within a few months to such a degree that Russia, even if the economy booms, will be certain to achieve the goals of the international climate protection treaty.  That is why an influential part of Russia's industry is fighting for the Kyoto Protocol in order to set up a risk global trade with the often used pollution rights.  The Kremlin in turn is using Kyoto in order to play off the U.S and the EU against each other with the goal to gain weight in the international arena....  For Russia it makes sense to continue to postpone its signature under the Kyoto Protocol....  But the real damage would not happen in Europe, including Russia, but in the quickly growing threshold countries in India and China:  without the Kyoto Protocol, there is no incentive to invest in clean industrial plants."


"Climate Policy a la North Korea"


Bernhard Poetter argued in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (12/4):  "Following the U.S. refusal to ratify the Kyoto process, the Protocol can enter into force only with the support of Russia.  Against this background, Russia is taking climate protection hostage.  The calculation behind it is:  nothing will work without and against Russia.  If we cannot shape things, we can at least spoil the entire game.  This is a policy that demonstrates strength from a position of weakness.  As North Korea is waving its nuclear weapons around to be taken seriously, Putin & Co. are waving around the Kyoto Protocol....  Conferences like the one in Milan are useful, nevertheless, for Kyoto is the only and thus best climate protection agreement we have....  Kyoto is only a small step but it is at least a step forward."


ITALY:  "Moscow Undecided Between Economy And Ecology Fights With Europe"


A commentary in elite classical liberal Il Foglio read (12/4):  "The declarations made a couple of days ago by Andrei Illariov...raised the global temperature at the COP9 Conference in Milan.  The reason is that without Russia the entire framework that was laboriously erected six years ago in Kyoto is at risk of dissolving....  With Washington's withdrawal and the exemptions given to China and India by the Protocol, Russia fears being disadvantaged economically....  Furthermore, if the U.S. retreats, Russia will no longer be able to count on the possibility of selling its 'credits' to Washington....  After Illarionov's declarations, Russian Deputy Economic Minister Mukhamed Tsikhanov claimed that 'no decisions have been made on the ratification but we are moving in that direction.'  The Italian EU Presidency has said it is available to hold talks with Russia.  Relations between the EU and Russia are not experiencing a particularly good moment....  To go back to Kyoto, the Europeans do not have a clean conscience....  13 out of 15 member countries did not abide by the fixed joint objectives, which call for a total reduction of 8 per cent by 2008, or at the latest 2012.  The only countries that stayed in line with the program were Sweden and Great Britain.  Spain, Austria, Belgium and Ireland were the less efficient ones."


"Once Upon A Time There Was The Kyoto Protocol"


Pietro Greco commented in pro-democratic left L'Unità (12/4):  "Last Tuesday's declaration, with which Moscow cooled the COP9 Conference in Milan, strongly resembles the way George Bush the father cooled the Rio de Janeiro Conference in 1992....  The truth is that Illarianov's declarations virtually killed the Protocol that was signed in Kyoto 8 years ago....  Illarianov's declaration is a clear announcement that Russia intends to raise the stakes in a commercial game and insert the ratification of the Protocol within a larger EU negotiating context, which would include the sale of energy resources and entry into the WTO....  After the Kyoto Protocol, it will be necessary to involve China, India, countries Southeast Asian and Latin American countries in the containment process....  But how can we expect these newly developed countries to adhere to this 'post-Kyoto' draconian process when there are old developed countries (U.S.) that don't participate at all in the modest Kyoto Protocol?...  The only agony here is not the Kyoto Protocol...but the idea itself...that global environmental problems can be faced by multilateral agreements that attempt to appeal to the spirit of solidarity internationally and intergenerationally....  The EU, the 'new global' movements, scientists and intellectuals must succeed in talking directly to the people."


"Moscow Doesn't Sign Kyoto Protocol"


Jacopo Giliberto opined in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (12/3):  "[Here is] the Russian case on the climate agreement. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin's economic adviser Andrei Illarionov confirmed that Russia has no intentions of adhering to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change....  In  fact, in Milan the Kyoto Protocol is only a part of a wider negotiation in which all the issues are connected to one another....  Beyond the Kyoto Protocol.  An agreement which is seen as old and inadequate is being supplanted to go on to something else....  So yesterday another agreement was consolidated--the economic regulations of Kyoto will only apply to countries that ratified the Protocol.  This means that energy products and European technological standards will be favored on the international market for the environment and on innovation exports."


RUSSIA:  "Russia Doesn't Need Kyoto Protocol"


Reformist Izvestiya remarked (12/5):  "Russia caused a sensation in the world as its President Vladimir Putin stated that his country will not adhere to the Kyoto Protocol on terms that are unfavorable to it.  After that statement, which shocked politicians round the world, the Kyoto Protocol may just as well be pronounced dead.  Without Russia, it simply can't come into force.  Presidential advisor Andrey Illarionov calls the refusal to sign the Protocol Decision of the Year.  In his opinion, ratifying the Protocol would have taken this country down a peg in the GDP growth rate....  There is still no agreement among scientists on whether carbon dioxide affects the climate."


BELGIUM:  "Kyoto’s Death"


Rachel Crivellaro observed in independent French-language La Libre Belgique (12/8):  "If Russia confirms its decision, that would be nothing else than Kyoto’s clinical death.  The UN and the EU remain optimistic and hope for another Russian turnabout.  Yet, this umpteenth diplomatic development should not conceal a much more sad reality:  if it does not change its policies, the EU will only reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5 percent by 2010 compared to its 1990 levels.  This would be light years from the 8 percent that the EU committed itself to reach when it ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  As for Belgium, it is really the bad pupil in the Fifteen’s classroom.  By 2010, Belgian emissions should exceed by 22.9 percent the levels that it pledged to reach.  This is a particularly pitiful performance for the most enthusiastic supporters of the Kyoto Protocol, especially since they have no qualms criticizing the United States and Russia." 


"Everything Can Stay as It Has Always Been"


Bart Sturtewagen commented in independent Christian Democrat De Standaard (Internet version, 12/8):  "It has been clear for quite some time that it would require a miracle to curb greenhouse gas omissions so as to meet the Kyoto treaty's standards.  Yet, the idea that the entire Kyoto concept might as well be dumped is new.  This is what is about to happen, though, now that Russia has said it no longer intends to ratify the environment accord....  Back in 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush was the first person who dared to say aloud that the ambitious accord was unrealistic....  The whole world was taken aback by his blunt statement that his country would not accept any economic constraints imposed by an international treaty concluded by his predecessor....  Since the United States produces one-third of all greenhouse gasses, Bush dealt a severe blow to the fight against global warming.  This provoked a chorus of disapproval in Europe, which produces one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.  This is quite hypocritical because neither on this side of the Atlantic will we succeed in meeting the Kyoto standards.... among the worst performers....  Now that the Russians have carefully read the text of the treaty, they are no longer convinced it will benefit them.  Since the United States will not be among the bidders, the sales price of emission rights could remain below target....  Although the EU claims it will continue to strive for the Kyoto targets, the pressure to comply with this vow has disappeared.  So the visionary plan that sought to prompt the world community to assume its responsibility for the livability of our planet, also with respect to future generations, has turned out to be too ambitious.  The search for cleaner energy sources will slow down and investments in new environmental technologies will drop....  So everything can stay as it has always been, while people simply think:  when the world goes to the dogs, we will no longer be around to see it."


DENMARK:  "American Research Can Contribute To Beating Climate Change"


Center-left Politiken editorialized (12/7):  "Even though American COP-9 negotiators appear to be adamant that new technology can beat climate change, there is some light at the end of the tunnel in as much as, the Americans are investing more money than ever in research."


IRELAND:  "Putin Aide Insists Kyoto Pact Dead"


Daniel McLaughlin wrote in the center-left Irish Times (12/5):  "After Washington pulled out of the pact, Russia's ratification became crucial to take the cumulative emissions of signatory states to 55 per cent of the world output of such gases as carbon dioxide....  Greenpeace said U.S. pressure could be coming to bear on Moscow, noting that Mr. Putin's comments on Kyoto soured after his meeting with President Bush in September.  Many economists have advised Russia to ratify Kyoto....  Observers also say Mr. Putin is using ratification of Kyoto as a bargaining chip in protracted and often heated negotiations over Russia's long-delayed entry into the World Trade Organization."


"EU Heading For Failure"


Frank McDonald noted in the center-left Irish Times (12/3):  "A runaway increase in transport emissions is being blamed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) for its latest pessimistic assessment that the EU will not meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.  Ireland is among the worst offenders, the agency finds....  Latest projections show that initiatives already being implemented at European or national level will reduce the EU's total emissions in 2010 to only 0.5 per cent below 1990 levels, leaving it 7.5 per cent short of the Kyoto target....  On the basis of existing measures alone, most EU member-states including Germany would miss their Kyoto targets.  Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Austria and Belgium 'would all exceed theirs by more than 20 per cent', the EEA said.  According to the agency, the outlook is somewhat brighter when the additional measures being planned in 11 member-states, mainly in the energy sector, are brought into the picture.  These are projected to bring emission cuts of about 6.7 per cent.  The EEA noted that seven of the 10 states joining the EU next year are on track to achieve their Kyoto targets."


"Russia Cools On Climate Change Agreement"


Daniel McLaughlin wrote in the center-left Irish Times (12/3):  "One of the Kremlin's economic gurus said yesterday that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol in its current form, a move that could torpedo the landmark UN treaty to reduce global warming.  'The Kyoto Protocol places significant limitations on the economic growth of Russia,' said Mr. Andrei Illarionov, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin and a well-known sceptic of a treaty that the United States has already rejected as flawed.....  Mr. Putin, after expressing some early enthusiasm for the pact, had cooled markedly since declaring his intent to double Russia's gross domestic product by 2010....  After Washington pulled out of the pact, Russia's ratification became crucial to take the cumulative emissions of signatory states to at least 55 per cent of the world output of gases like carbon dioxide.  Only then will the protocol come into force....  But Moscow has stalled on ratification....  Russian officials have said Moscow wants concrete guarantees of revenue from emissions rights and investment in cleaner industry and power production.  Mr. Putin is also reported to be using Kyoto as a bargaining chip in protracted talks over Russian accession to the WTO."


LATVIA:  "Will It Snow?"


Peteris Strautins wrote in leading Diena (12/6):  "It is interesting to compare the reaction of the rest of the world when American President George Bush announced in 2001 that he would not support ratification of the protocol (it was known that the position of the United States Senate made ratification unrealistic anyway) and when Russia presented its disappointing attitude this week.  In fact, Russia has changed its mind--in September President [Vladimir] Putin said that Russia would support the protocol.  Bush caused a storm of disgust, but the reaction to Russia's decision can be compared to a careful consideration of the tips of one's shoes during an uncomfortable situation.  This reflects the particular dislike which politicians in Europe and other parts of the world--leftist politicians in particular--hold for the United States and, especially, its present government. In relation to this decision, it must be said, the dislike is quite justified....  In Latvia, praise for the Kyoto Protocol presents a great chance to demonstrate concern for global problems without undertaking the burden of any related costs.  If the protocol really does take force, we will even be able to gain from it....  Our situation is the most advantageous of any European country.  This would allow us to sell our unused pollution quotas to other countries which cannot satisfy their own obligations.  It is very simple to give advice to Latvia's politicians in this case--do what you can to support the taking force of the protocol."


NETHERLANDS:  "The End of Kyoto"


Rotterdam's influential, independent  NRC Handelsblad in editorialized (12/3):  "This week, environment ministers and civil servants are meeting in Milan concerning the state of affairs of the Kyoto Protocol.  It is not doing well.  Russia will probably not sign the protocol....  Without Russia, the protocol will not take effect.  In that case, the required minimum level of emissions from industrialized countries would not be attained....  The EU does want to respect the protocol targets, even if it never takes effect.  But...most EU member states are not succeeding in reaching the targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions....  13 of the 15 EU member states, including the Netherlands, are way above their targets....  We should not be overly regretful concerning the end of the climate protocol.  Regardless of the ongoing scientific discussions of the extent of the process of climate change, the protocol has fundamental shortcomings.  Meeting the demands of the Kyoto Protocol will increasingly place limitations on energy consumption.  The costs in terms of reduced economic growth far outweigh the expected minimal reduction of temperature growth over a long period.  No account is taken of the pressure of population growth.  And the rise of large and populous developing countries is ignored, while that is where the strongest growth in energy consumption is taking place....  It is better to shift the emphasis to the search for technological alternatives, rather than holding on to unrealistic objectives and continuing to insist with moral outrage on the meaning of a protocol, which will not take effect....  Much more can be attained with saving energy.  The reduction of subsidies for traditional fuels like coal will also help.  In this way, more practical solutions can be imagined, making the difficult respect of the Kyoto Protocol unnecessary.  If in a few years, it emerges that it is totally impossible that the EU countries will meet the demands, which they have set themselves, then they will be grateful to President Bush and President Putin because they have set the Kyoto Protocol to one side."


SWEDEN:  "Sweden One Of Few Countries Living Up To Kyoto"


Bjorn Lindahl remarked in the conservative Svenska Dagbladet (Internet version, 12/5):  "The United States and Australia have said no.  Russia is vacillating.  China and India are excused.  The EU is positive, but 13 out of 15 member countries cannot meet their commitments.  Who will actually weep if the Kyoto protocol is officially declared dead?  The answer is Sweden, one of the two EU countries that will actually reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases at the pace pledged....  In other quarters, there will be mostly crocodile tears.  Canada, which ratified the agreement...promised to reduce its emissions by six percent.  They increased them by 19 percent instead....  There has been similar development in many other countries.  The Kyoto agreement will collapse if Russia says no....  It is still too early to say that the country will not ratify the agreement....  The minister for economic development...has claimed that Russia is moving toward ratification....  The cynics say that the Russians are just trying to push up the price for the emissions rights they negotiated into place.  As the base level was set at 1990, Russia had not yet got through the economic crisis that arose when the socialist economy was being adjusted to the free market.  The crisis was so deep that Russia is allowed to increase its carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent without reaching its ceiling.  Russia can therefore make out 'air invoices.'  It can, against payment, transfer its emissions quotas to other countries without the environment being improved one bit.  With the U.S. withdrawal in 2001, the Kyoto agreement was damaged in two ways:  on the one hand, the country responsible for the greatest emissions disappeared.  On the other, the biggest buyer of emissions rights disappeared.  Supporters of the Kyoto protocol often seem to believe that it is only a matter of waiting until President George W. Bush disappears.  But the United States Senate said no to the agreement, 95 votes to 0.  It is bitter to realize that you are the only one doing your homework.  But it is high time to start planning how the fight against the greenhouse effect can take place without the Kyoto agreement."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Environment Talks Must Be More Than Hot Air"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (12/8):  "With environment ministers from around the world meeting in Milan this week, global warming is set to be a subject of acrimonious debate.  The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, aims to cut emissions of the most damaging greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, to 95 per cent of 1990 levels.  But after the U.S., the world's largest producer of the gas, withdrew its support in 2001, there have been increasing doubts as to whether the treaty would be ratified by a sufficient number of countries....  Sticking to its guns, the U.S. has reiterated that implementing the protocol, which is about using existing technology to reduce emissions, would only slow economic growth.  It argues that emissions should be reduced by using breakthrough technology that transforms how energy is produced and consumed.  Citing U.S.-led efforts to introduce a hydrogen- powered economy, it says only new technology will allow growth to continue.  The U.S. position is dubious in that it is difficult to see why new and existing technology could not be used at the same time to reduce emissions."


THAILAND:  "Looking For Energy Breakthrough"


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (12/7):  “Someone in the White House must be saying, ‘I told you so!’  Even as ministers and delegates from around the world were meeting last week in Milan, Italy to discuss ways to revitalize the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, serious problems are emerging over its implementation, for the very reason the U.S. backed out of the agreement:  the economic costs are higher than most nations are willing to pay.  A major setback to the treaty came from the Kremlin, when an aide to President Putin indicated Russia would not ratify the treaty because the financial restraints imposed by significantly reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide are not in Russia’s national interests....  Another major blow came with the news that 13 of the 15 nations of the European Union will be way off the emission reduction targets set by the agreement....  America’s official position on Kyoto has long been known.  Paula Dobriansky, U.S. undersecretary of state for global affairs, earlier in the week denounced it as being unrealistic....  Another technology with promise is nuclear fusion....  Toward that end, a joint effort by Russia, Japan, the European Union, the United States, Canada, China and South Korea will soon inaugurate a prototype nuclear fusion power plant called the International Thermonuclear experimental Reactor (ITER)....  Aside from the global warming issue, there is a strong likelihood that at some time in the not-too-distant future oil reserves will begin to run out.  Despite the cost and the uncertainty of success, ITER is the kind of multinational project which should be promoted if we do not wish to see nuclear fission power plants dotting the planet.”




INDIA:  "Wages Of Kyoto"


The pro-economic-reform Financial Express editorialized (12/8):  "The recent statement by President Putin's chief economic advisor, Andrei Illarionov, that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol 'in its present form' expectedly set off a debate amongst the environment fraternity on the future of the treaty and climate change....  But there are others who say that with or without Russia on board, Kyoto, despite its deep flaws, has already set in motion the process to tackle global warming.  For instance, the EU has passed a law requiring a ceiling on GHG emissions by 2005 which also requires that a carbon trading system be put in place by that time, regardless of the pact's fate....  The Bush administration has called on industry to help it achieve its goal of reducing an 18 per cent reduction in GHG emissions between 2002-12.  Even in industrializing countries, including India, which hope to substantially benefit financially through the process of carbon trading with developed countries, there is now greater awareness regarding climate change with environmental security already an intrinsic part of several countries' national energy policies....  But even a Kyoto will not be able to achieve its goals unless countries realize the necessity of balancing growth with environmental sustainability. Treaty or not, countries must realize that clean air is important."




CANADA:  "Improve Kyoto With A Truly Global Effort"


The conservative Gazette of Montreal remarked (12/8):  "The news and attendant explanations from Russia--which is No. 4 on the international list of greenhouse-gas emitters--might just as well have come from Canada.  To comply with the utopian Kyoto expectation of a 5.2-percent reduction in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by 2012 would strangle economic growth and create politically unsustainable hardship.  Developed nations were to bear the brunt of the reductions; Third World economies were largely exempt.  Much scorn is heaped on the U.S. (No. 1 on the emission parade) for having nothing to do with the Kyoto protocol.  Scorn is heaped even on the American complaint that China and India were exempted.  Yet developing countries are major offenders.  One of the great under-reported stories of our times is that emissions from cooking fires in Asia contribute seriously to the Greenhouse Effect.  While the image of a peasant preparing dinner is far removed from that of an executive topping up the tank of an SUV, the activities are virtual twins in terms of the harm they do to the environment....  In one respect, however, Kyoto has done some good, by alerting the public to a problem that will not soon go away.  While there is still debate about the extent to which climate change is caused by human intervention, there is no doubt that atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased, and no reason to suppose this is good.  Reducing emissions remains a priority.  But we'll need to get the attention of all major governments, and then their co-operation.  Kyoto was not good enough."


"Reports Of Kyoto's Death Are Premature"


David Suzuki, scientist and broadcaster in Vancouver, observed in the leading Globe and Mail (Internet version, 12/5):  "Kyoto is not dead.  In fact, the Kyoto Protocol is not even dying.  Some people wish that Kyoto would fizzle out, including Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and oil industry lobbyists, who incorrectly link cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to a less robust economy.  They were among the first to react after an economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol....  It's true that if Russia doesn't ratify, the Kyoto Protocol will not enter into force....  But I'm optimistic that Russia will ratify.  Why?  Because President Putin said [to many leaders in the past several months that] he would.  His adviser is mistaken if he thinks that Kyoto comes at the expense of the economy.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  Kyoto will boost the economy with a new focus on energy efficiency and conservation.  Wasted energy is wasted money, which is irresponsible--both fiscally and environmentally.  By eliminating energy waste, we can meet our Kyoto targets, slow climate change, reduce pollution and put money in our pockets.  Right now, thousands of delegates from around the world are meeting in Italy to finalize details of the Kyoto Protocol.  It's a good thing that Kyoto isn't dead.  It's an agreement well worth saving.  Instead of writing Kyoto's obituary, we should be celebrating its birth."


"Champion Kyoto"


The liberal Toronto Star held (Internet version, 12/4):  "In refusing to participate in the Kyoto accord, which is the international attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, U.S. President George Bush could reasonably be described as a passive eco-terrorist against the planet we all share.  But by putting short-term U.S. economic gains before the long-run costs of continued global warming, Bush has not only shirked his responsibility as leader of the world's only superpower, he has given other countries an excuse to do the same.  Now, with Russia parroting Bush's arguments against Kyoto, the treaty may never come into force.  Russia's participation is essential for the accord to take effect.  In light of this potential crisis, Canadians would surely expect Paul Martin to do everything in his power to convince the Russians to ratify the Kyoto accord as soon as he takes over as prime minister late next week.  Instead, Martin reacted to the news out of Moscow by talking about his own problems with the Kyoto accord.  He complained that Canada doesn't have a plan for meeting its own commitments that is as detailed and comprehensive as it should be.  That is probably true.  But there is no point talking about the deficiencies in our own plan to meet our treaty targets, when the treaty itself is under serious threat.  Instead of underscoring the additional economic costs that Ottawa may not have adequately assessed--and leaving Canadians with the distinct impression that he wouldn't be all that upset if the treaty didn't proceed, Martin should be using the global stature he has earned as champion of a new international order to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the 120 countries that have already signed the accord."


"With Or Without Kyoto, Canada Needs A Plan"


The leading Globe and Mail held (Internet version, 12/4):  "The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, ushered in with considerable hope by its proponents, is not officially dead.  But it is time to prepare the obituaries for an international treaty so flawed that it likely never could have delivered on its goal of significantly reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases implicated in global warming.  Optimistic delegates gathered at the latest United Nations conference on climate change in Milan are continuing their work on rules governing various aspects of the treaty.  But they would be better off looking for alternatives....  Laudable as the aims of the Kyoto Protocol is full of holes in logic, including its radically different treatment of rich and poor countries....  The United States wanted no part of an accord that could not guarantee that worldwide emissions would be reduced even if all the industrialized nations were to climb aboard.  The Americans feared massive new costs for their manufacturers and energy producers, and potential economic and social upheaval, without any certainty about what the exercise would amount to at the end of the day.  That is also the concern of Canadians who have expressed skepticism about the accord and about the costly and onerous conditions it imposes.  Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who views Kyoto as one of his legacy achievements, insists this country should live up to its commitments.  But he does so without any knowledge of what costs and economic risks that will entail, or even whether it will be of any benefit.  Prime-minister-designate Paul Martin repeated yesterday what he has said in the past:  that while he supported the accord, it would not work without a detailed plan on whether emission-reduction targets were attainable, on how to meet them, on the economic benefits from implementing new technologies and on the costs.  Now that the accord's fate appears sealed--never certain when the Russians are involved--the federal government must do what it should have done in the first place.  Come up with a clear and achievable plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions without inflicting grave economic harm, and let Canadians debate whether the sacrifices that will be necessary to implement it are worth it.  Mr. Chrétien tried to dress up a pledge as policy, which was putting the cart before the horse."


"Life After Kyoto Should Put The Plan First"


The nationalist Ottawa Citizen editorialized (12/4):  "The main [problem], both here and abroad, is the lack of a practical plan to achieve the Kyoto targets.  And the answer to that problem isn't another high-minded, headline-grabbing multilateral promise to do something good in an unspecified way. It's to specify a good way forward....  If Canada finds a practical way to reduce greenhouse gases that does limited harm to the traditional economy and gives a major boost to the new one, it will prove to the doubters in many countries, especially Australia and the U.S., that it can be done, and show supporters in Europe and Japan how to do it.  The result will be unstoppable pressure for action including, but not limited to, a new, more detailed, actually effective treaty.  And if the science or economics behind Kyoto are flawed, we'll know that, too."


"Bidding Kyoto Adieu"


The conservative National Post opined (12/4):  "The scientific debate about whether man-made carbon dioxide and methane is contributing to higher temperatures will likely continue for years.  But whatever the scale of the problem, Kyoto is not the solution--especially if only a handful of nations are taking its provisions seriously.  Our government must not allow Canada to become the great patsy of the industrialized world.  Already, the projected cost of compliance for this country is around $28 billion and tens of thousands of jobs.  That bill will only go up if our industry burdens itself with emissions caps that the United States, Russia and a growing number of other Kyoto signatories are ignoring."


"Kyoto Kibosh"


Roy Clancy stated in the conservative tabloid Calgary Sun (12/3):  "Yesterday, a high-ranking adviser to President Vladimir Putin said Russia has gotten cold feet because Kyoto will damage his country's economy....  But the Kyoto Protocol was shaping up as a headlong race toward disaster all by itself.  The Americans, who pulled out of the Protocol in 2001, called it 'an unrealistic and ever-tightening regulatory straitjacket.'  Even the European nations that staunchly backed the pact admitted this week they were not on track to meet goals.  In the absence of any coherent plan, it is difficult to understand how Canada, a nation with huge distances between cities and one of the coldest climates on Earth, could ever meet its unrealistic target....  No argument emissions must be reduced, but it's becoming clear that the Kyoto Protocol, with its dubious emissions trading schemes and potentially devastating economic impact, is not the way to go about it."


ARGENTINA:  "Deadlock For Global Warming Summit"


Julio Alganaraz wrote in leading Clarín (12/4):  "Russia's lack of decision is leading the Milan summit to a deadlock.  This summit is aimed at kicking off the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997 by 120 nations with the purpose to reduce global warming gases....  Yesterday, 6,500 delegates and experts at the 9th Conference on Climate Change were on the brink as a consequence of the contradictory versions coming from Moscow, which forecasted the collapse of the agreement....  The tough negotiations aimed at obtaining Russia's support are the most important and pathetic aspects of the conference, while terrifying data on the future consequences of growing contamination keeps piling up....  Russia's 'yes' or 'no' is now a matter of life or death for the Kyoto Protocol.  Moscow has been going back and forth with this decision for a long time because it wants to obtain major economic advantages from its deals with the U.S.--which proposes bilateral agreements to all countries in an attempt to boycott the treaty and impose its development model--or from its support to the Kyoto agreement that also offers important advantages."


"U.S. Withdrawal"


Hinde Pomeraniec, leading Clarin international columnist, opined (12/4):  "Since its unilateral withdrawal from Kyoto in 2001...the U.S. no longer needs to measure its levels of pollution.  Instead, it boycotts a treaty that 'limits' its production, while it promotes that another country clean its atmosphere....  In order to avoid a failure before its birth, the Kyoto Protocol needs Russia's ratification.  In Moscow...they're also analyzing percentages, and they want to obtain as much as they can from their signature--which today is worth more than any other."


BRAZIL:  "Heat And Myopia" 


Center-right O Globo declared (12/3):  "First, President Vladimir Putin, referring to the Kyoto Protocol, said in a mocking manner that a little more of heat would be good for Russia.  Then Putin's main Economic Advisor Andrei Illarionov announced that Russia would not ratify the Treaty.  Now, however, Economy Deputy Minister Tsikhanov discredited Illarionov and stated the country is moving towards the Protocol's ratification.  One hopes this is the real position of Putin's government that would then demonstrate it not being affected by short-term myopia, the only explanation for the rejection.  Because according to local scientists, if the Treaty is good for the whole world it is particularly good for Russia.  They warn:  the country is under a disastrous threat of climatic changes due to global warming."


Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home