Global climate change: the battle
At the UNCED it was agreed that there should be regular COPs to the FCCC in order to continue to assess scientific developments and the need for additional action. It was also agreed that a climate change protocol should be established in which developed country commitments would be spelled out. This occurred in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Three-and-a-half years later the US decided to withdraw from the Protocol. In a historic move that left the US internationally isolated, Japan and the EU decided to move forward with the Protocol even without the US.
This chapter examines these highly politicized debates from a comparative national perspective focusing on the US, Japan, and Germany, respectively the first, fourth, and sixth largest CO2 emitting countries in the world (see Table 7.1). The US throughout the decade after UNCED showed great resistance to committing itself to an international agreement that would require it to make major cuts to domestic CO2 emissions. It also opposed an agreement that did not include China, India, or other major developing countries that in coming years will become the world's largest polluters as a result of population growth and economic development. Germany and the EU pushed for an agreement that would require nations to begin a process of domestic emissions reductions. They argued that it was the developed countries' responsibility to act first especially since when viewed on a per capita basis it is the inhabitants of the rich countries that are the big polluters. Japan continued in its uncomfortable role as the middleman, seeking a way to find a compromise between the EU and the US. In the end, it did what it seldom does. It chose to side not with the US, but instead with the EU.
to climate change?
There were high expectations that the US position might change as a result of the election of William J. Clinton and his running mate, Albert Gore. Gore, after all, had written the best selling book, Earth