Lots of heat, but little light

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Thu Nov 30 02:30:15 EST 2000

>From The Oregonian, Nov. 29 2000, p D10

(Editorial from The Oregonian Editorial Writers, EditorialPage)
Lots of heat, but little light
Global warming conference ends with failure and insults; nations must try
again to reach workable compromise

	The international climate change meeting in The Hague ended last
week in failure, with nations blaming one another for the 11th-hour
collapse of an effort to reach a binding treaty on global warming.
	There's plenty of blame to go around. The United States showed up
with a dead-on-arrival proposal that would have allowed it to meet its
emmisions reduction target mostly by counting its existing forests,
rather than by cutting pollution. The Europeans, meanwhile, bickered
among themselves and some refused, at the end, to accept a reasonable
comprosmie offered by American negotiators.

Given the divide among natins and the uncertain outcome of the U.S.
presidentail election, perhaps the failure was predictable. Yet it's
deeply distressing that the world seems unable to translate the 1997
Kyoto Accord into an enforceable treaty, with specific pollution targest
to be met by each country.
	There is hardly any lingering debate over whether climate change is
real, or whether it poses huge environmental challenges. The ominous
evidence continues to emerge - average temperatures are warming, glaciers
are retreating, the season are slowly rising.
	And yet, int he face of such serious environmetnal consequences, the
180 nations that gathered at The Hague failed to reach agreement on
limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, caused by the burning of fossil
fuels like coal and oil in power plants and automobiles, and five ther
greenhouse gases.

The debate at The Hague was over how the industrialized nations would
cut their greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by an average of 5.2
percent. The United States and some othe rnations sought to use carbon
"sinks?" - forests that remove carbon dioxide form the atmosphere through
photosynthesis. Other nations insisted on direct reductions in fossil
fuel use, through new investments in clean fuels and clearner power
plants. The negotiators also debated "emissions credits," whereby nations
could offset their own emission s by investing in clean-fuel projects in
other countries.
	By the conference's end, the United States had reduced by nearly
three-fourths the amount of credit it had sought for its forests. And yet
several Europeans, including the French and the Danes, refused to agree
to the compromise. The European negotiators ignored the political reality
in this country, including a skeptical U.S. Senate unlikely to ratify any
treaty that would dramatically raise energy prices and threaten economic

The United States is right to demand reasonable, flexible terms in any
international climate treaty. But as the nation that creates about one-
quarter of all the world's greenhouse emissions, it also has a moral and
political responsibility to help solve the problem.
	When the negotiators reconvene in six months in Bonn, Germany, the
United States must take a stronger leadership role. That includes
arriving at the next international climate change meeting with a
legitimate proposal
	Whether it is George W. Bush or Al Gore, the next president shoudl
appoint a new negotiating team early next year, and order it to develop a
workable plan to enable the United States to cut greenhouse gas
emissions. The failure at The Hague must not be repeated.

Comment by poster: It is interesting that The Oregonian chose to run this
after the election results were in instead of before. Also, that although
the seem to support the Kyoto Protocol in this editorial, the support
George W. Bush for president.

One thing seems to be clear: plant more trees!

Posted as a courtesy by:
Daniel B. Wheeler

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