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The Case Against The Kyoto Protocol

Sep 11, 2008
The Kyoto Protocol was an attempt to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce global warming. Unfortunately, it falls short of it's goals. Desperate for an agreement, members of 160 nations made numerous compromises, and ended up with a treaty that was full of loopholes, sets unreasonable goals in some areas, and does not go far enough in other areas.

Opponents of the Kyoto Protocol claim the agreement demands to much of countries that sign, while achieving too little. There are also questions about the underlying science behind the agreement. Many world scientists claim that Kyoto Protocol does not accomplish what it claims. Russia's Academy of Sciences said that the Russian governments signing of the treaty was a purely political move.

President Bush has long been a critic of the agreement and has repeatedly refused to give in to public pressure to sign. He has been unwaivering in his criticism. Going as far back as his presidential campaign, the president spoke out against Kyoto, and said that he would refuse to sign the treaty. His view is consistent with the US Senate, which voted 95-0 against signing any treaty that would "cause severe economic damage to the US", while exempting the rest of the world. The Bush Administration claims signing the Kyoto Protocol would cost the US economy $400B and 4.9M jobs.

Another complaint of Kyoto was that it exempted several developing countries, including China and India, from joining. China is the number one contributer of greenhouse gases, while India is the fifth leading contributer worldwide. China burns more coal than the US, European Union, and Japan combined.

The Kyoto Protocol also contains several loopholes that allow for more prosperous economies to "buy" the right to pollute from poorer countries. Programs such as Emissions Trading, Emissions Banking, and Carbon Offsets allow some countries to continue to pollute, negating the overall effectiveness of the greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

Several countries, including the US, Australia, India, and China have developed other agreements that will accomplish many of the goals set forth in Kyoto without being as economically damaging to member countries. The Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, signed in 2005, is one such agreement.
Overall, Kyoto appears to be a restrictive and ineffective agreement. the battle over whether the United States should sign or not, appears to be more political than practical.

While most agree something should be done to ensure the health of our planet, entering into a flawed agreement is not the answer. Signing the Kyoto Protocol could stand in the way of finding better, more effective alternatives.
About the Author
James Nash is a climate scientist with Greatest Planet (www.greatestplanet.org). Greatest Planet is a non-profit environmental organization specialising in carbon offset investments.

James Nash is solely responsible for the contents of this article.
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