Kyoto treaty takes effect despite US boycott
KYOTO: The Kyoto Protocol, the landmark treaty requiring cuts in gas emissions which cause global warming, took effect on Wednesday with the support of 141 nations but a boycott by the biggest polluter the US.
The 34 industrialized countries which have ratified the treaty are legally bound to slash output of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent before 2012, with targets set for each nation based on their 1990 levels.
The treaty was reached in this ancient Japanese capital in 1997 amid fear that the rise in global temperatures could eventually lead to droughts and the extinction of some species. “We sincerely welcome that the framework in which the world will cooperate to stop global warming has finally come into effect,” Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said.
The US pulled out of Kyoto in 2001 in one of President George W Bush’s first acts in office, saying it would hurt the US economy. The United States and Australia, the only other major industrial country to reject the treaty, account together for 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Bush administration points out that developing countries such as China and India have no obligations under Kyoto, meaning that their growing economies would not face the same economic burden as the United States.
More than 300 environmental activists marched through Kyoto under persistent rain to celebrate the start of the pact despite years of doubt, with some dressed as monkeys or penguins or wearing mock tiger ears to highlight global warming’s impact on animals.
The world’s average temperature rose by 0.6 C from 1900-1990 alone, and could increase by another 5.8 C by 2100, depending on how much carbon dioxide is in the air, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the world to do more to stop the scourge of global warming, saying the Kyoto Protocol which came into force Wednesday was only a first step. In a message broadcast in the ancient Japanese city where the landmark treaty was agreed in 1997, Annan called climate change “one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.” “By itself the protocol will not save humanity from the dangers of climate change. So let us celebrate but let us not be complacent,” Annan said. agencies