Media: Financial Times London 7/24/01
Climate deal leaves US isolated: Historic treaty to tackle global
warming agreed by 178 countries
BYLINE: By VANESSA HOULDER
Financial Times (London)
July 24, 2001, Tuesday USA Edition 2
BONN: A historic accord to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute
to global warming was agreed yesterday by 178 countries - the first
international treaty that will restrain energy consumption.
But the US stood isolated, refusing to commit itself to what President
George W. Bush called a "fatally flawed" agreement that threatened its
Yesterday morning, after four days of negotiations, Japan, the European
Union and some developing countries concluded a compromise that ensures the
survival of the beleaguered Kyoto protocol on climate change, originally
negotiated in 1997. It will lead to a compliance system with specific
targets for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.
These come from burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas.
The EU hailed the Bonn agreement - achieved in spite of low expectations of
success - as "a historic decision that would enable governments to ratify
the Kyoto protocol and bring it into force". It hoped the deal would
encourage the Bush administration to reconsider its decision not to ratify
"We have rescued the Kyoto protocol," said Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's
environment minister. "We can go home, look our children in the eye and feel
proud of what we have done."
Michael Meacher, the UK environment minister, said it was "a fantastic day
for the environment. This is a historic day that all of us will remember,"
Paula Dobriansky, US undersecretary of state for global affairs, underlined
the US decision against ratification, saying yesterday's agreement
reinforced the conclusions "that the treaty is not workable for the US". But
she added that "the US had not sought to prevent others from moving ahead".
The deal sets rules for the use of "flexible mechanisms", such as emissions
trading, and includes a funding package to help developing countries adapt
to climate change. The proposals also include a limited amount of carbon
"sinks" - forests and agricultural land that absorb carbon from the
Japan, whose backing is crucial for bringing the treaty into force,
yesterday indicated its support. Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's prime minister,
said: "Japan intends to continue to do its best to achieve a final agreement
by COP7 (the next climate change meeting in October) with a view to the
entry into force of the protocol by 2002." He added that Japan would
continue its "maximum efforts" to bring the US into the agreement.
Environmental campaigners welcomed the agreement. "If everything goes to
plan, this will be a major political victory," said Friends of the Earth.
Campaigners said the agreement would put greenhouse gas emissions from
industrialised countries on a downwards trend, even though it weakened the
deal originally agreed in Kyoto.
"This deal sends an unambiguous signal to business and industry to begin
investing in measures that cut carbon pollution," said Jennifer Morgan of
WWF, the conservation group.
The International Chamber of Commerce reacted cautiously, recognising that
"considerable progress had been made" while calling for additional details
to be agreed to allow businesses to start planning investment.
Special report: The Bonn climate conference
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