Revised Kyoto Pact Seen as Less Rigid
Dougherty, Carter, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Carter Dougherty
BONN - The international climate agreement hammered out over the past three days to save the 1997 Kyoto Protocol will curb emissions of the greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming only slightly and may even permit increases, according to scientists and analysts.
Environmental groups supported the deal, keenly aware that the Bonn talks on finalizing the global-warming treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 were their last chance. But many activists complained that the pact now bears only faint resemblance to the one negotiated in Japan.
Countries will be able to emit more earth-warming gases than permitted under Kyoto because the Bonn agreement gives them credit for having "sinks" - forests that soak up carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas.
"The protocol has been heavily diluted," said Friends of the Earth organizer Kate Hampton. "Its effect on the climate has been massively eroded."
Opponents of the treaty castigated environmentalists for trying to resuscitate the treaty only to complain later.
"[Kyoto] always had the use of sinks built into it," said Chris Horner, counsel to the Cooler Heads Coalition, a network of anti-Kyoto groups in Washington. "If there are less reductions, the environmentalists have no one but themselves to blame."
President Bush, deeming the treaty "fatally flawed," announced in May that the United States would not ratify what he considered the economically harmful Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton administration negotiated. But other countries moved ahead with the treaty.
Moderate green groups praised the political decision in Bonn to treat global warming as a serious issue, rather than one that can be safely ignored.
"The psychological effect is much, much bigger than the ecological effect," said Stephan Singer with the Worldwide Fund for Nature.
David Doniger, director of the Climate Change Center at the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council, argued that Kyoto is now a politically sustainable treaty. As proof, he highlighted the agreement's provisions that will create business-friendly mechanisms, such as systems to trade carbon-dioxide emission credits.
"The deal embodies what neoconservative economic analysts have wanted for years," he said. …