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
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