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Kyoto "still shows the way"

18 May 2005
Michael Grubb joins the debate today with a defence of the Kyoto Protocol and a call for the rich countries to honour the promises they have already made. Here are excerpts:

"Kyoto has survived, fundamentally, because George W Bush has been unable to honour his early promise to come up with a plausible alternative. Kyoto’s fundamental premise is that countries should tackle climate change by negotiating a core of national targets for emission reductions. It sounds sensible, and it is: after four years, and numerous discussions, credible alternatives remain elusive...

...opponents of the protocol wildly exaggerate the cost of implementing it. A realistic figure may be in the region of $10 billion. Much of this price tag will take the form of investment rather than net cost, because implementing emission reductions largely means taking measures to improve energy efficiency, and the energy savings often outweigh the initial costs required after very few years...

...Aubrey Meyer is wrong to argue, in his contribution to openDemocracy’s debate, that the 1997 Byrd-Hagel resolution offers a radical alternative that is a more realistic way forward. The essence of that vote was that the US would not take on binding limits unless developing countries did so simultaneously. But developing countries are adamant that the rich world must first demonstrate leadership and willingness to tackle the problem...

...the most solid plank of the US critique has been scepticism that the other rich countries would honour their commitments...

Kyoto is the central achievement of a decade and a half of climate diplomacy. Europe’s public and international credibility now hinges on effective implementation. The European Union’s ETS is itself a monumental achievement, but its weak implementation could threaten everything. Unless the British government and its partners demonstrate a more serious and effective commitment to deliver, all the rhetoric at the G8 and EU presidency will be...hot air".

Full text here.

Prof Grubb's analysis comes as an international meeting in Germany, organised by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), marks what's described as "the first international attempt" to look into what to do when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Caspar Henderson

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