Environmental Defense Praises Climate Protection Agreement

Environmental Defense today praised the leadership shown by Japan, Russia,

and the European Union (EU) in finalizing rules at negotiations in Morocco to

implement the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. Today’s action by more than

170 countries paves the way for ratification by individual nations, which could

put the Protocol into effect as early as next year.

“Earth is already beginning to show the effects of global climate change, and

responsible nations are taking action,” said Environmental Defense chief

scientist Michael Oppenheimer. “As the world’s largest producer of greenhouse

gas pollution, it’s well past time for the United States to join the broad-based

international coalition against global warming. Because the science on this issue

is clear, the administration should immediately reconsider its position”

Despite international scientific assessments that show global warming gases

have reached their highest level in more than 400,000 years, the Bush

administration withdrew the U.S. from the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year.

Other political leaders have taken steps to address global climate challenge. In

August Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) pledged

to develop legislation to cap U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. But without a limit

on carbon dioxide emissions, U.S. industries are not likely to respond to business

opportunities in the emissions market.

“While the climate negotiators deserve praise for preserving the fundamental

strengths of the Kyoto Protocol — binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions

from industrialized nations and creation of an international emissions trading

market — some of their decisions may reduce the market’s ability to deliver the

full range of environmental and economic benefits that might otherwise have

been achieved,” said Joseph Goffman, Environmental Defense senior attorney.

“By significantly reducing the role of forest carbon sinks in meeting countries’

emissions limitation obligations, the negotiators lost a critical opportunity to

integrate climate protection and biodiversity enhancement into the protocol.

These issues will have to be re-visited should the U.S. move to re-engage the

Kyoto process in the future.”

Along with Congress, some states have also expressed interest in legislation

that would require reductions in emissions that contribute to global warming.

This week, with gubernatorial, industry and environmental support, legislation to

cap greenhouse gas pollution from power plants was introduced in the New

Hampshire legislature. Some 20 other states have legislative proposals under

consideration.

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