US and developing countries block extension of Kyota

Ronald Bailey:

The Kyoto Protocol is dead -- there will be no further global treaties that set binding limits on the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) after Kyoto runs out in 2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol industrialized countries are supposed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases 5.2% below their 1990 emissions levels during the first commitment period which runs from 2008-2012. The European Union agreed to reduce its overall GHG emissions by 8% during that period. To cut its carbon emissions, the European Union has established a carbon trading scheme in which companies must purchase permits to emit carbon. The number of carbon permits is capped at 8% below 1990 emission levels. The European Union and environmentalist activists have been pushing for negotiations to establish more stringent emissions limits for a second commitment period after 2012. It's not going to happen.

The conventional wisdom that it's the United States against the rest of the world in climate change diplomacy has been turned on its head. Instead it turns out that it is the Europeans who are isolated. China, India, and most of the rest of the developing countries have joined forces with the United States to completely reject the idea of future binding GHG emission limits. At the conference here in Buenos Aires, Italy shocked its fellow European Union members when it called for an end to the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. These countries recognize that stringent emission limits would be huge barriers to their economic growth and future development.

...

So what now? Two different but complementary paths for addressing any future climate change have emerged from the Buenos Aires Climate Change Conference. The Europeans and activists have been pushing the first, which envisions steep near term reductions (next 20 years) in the emissions of GHG as a way to mitigate projected global warming. On the other hand, the United States has been advocating a technology-push approach in which emissions continue to rise and then GHG concentrations and emissions are cut steeply beginning in about 20 years. Over that time, the US sees the development of new energy efficient technologies, the creation of low cost methods for capturing and storing carbon dioxide both as emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and the invention of low carbon energy supplies. Such an approach has the advantage of fostering economic growth in the developing countries, lifting hundreds of millions from abject poverty over the next 20 years.


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