EcoEarth.Info Home


Environment Portal & Search Engine

Empowering the Environmental Sustainability Movement

Environment Search

EcoEarth.Info News Archive

Non-profit environment news links and archive of materials no longer on web provided on these terms to help find solutions and for posterity

Disclaimer & Conditions for Use | Share on Facebook |

Climate News Compilation

Source:  Copyright 2001, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Date:  April 1, 2001
Byline:  Chad Carpenter








WHAT NEXT ON WARMING? (Washington Post) 38) AFTER KYOTO (Financial Times)


BEING THE PRESIDENT CAN BE A DIRTY JOB (The Scotsman) 42) THE K WORD (Times of London)

43) KYOTO GETS THE BUSH KISS OF DEATH (Bangkok Post) 44) BUSH BOOTS LIFE OUT OF CLIMATE CHANGE TREATY (NZ Herald) 45) WARMING UP TO GREEN (Time Magazine) 46) PIETY AT KYOTO DIDN'T COOL THE PLANET (NY Times) 47) DING DONG, KYOTO'S DEAD (National Review) 48) AMERICA FIRST (Sydney Morning Herald) _______________________________________ 

1) DISMAY AS U.S. DROPS CLIMATE PACT CNN March 29, 2001 Internet: .html

LONDON, England -- Dismay is being expressed across the world at the decision by U.S. President George W. Bush to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Treaty aimed at staving off global warming. Under the treaty, the major powers agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which result mainly from burning coal and oil, by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. But the U.S. decision not to implement the cuts deals a blow to European hopes to salvage the pact.

The European Union led the hail of protests. The Swedish government, which currently holds the European Union presidency, described the move as appalling and provocative. Sweden's Environment Minister, Kjell Larssen, told the BBC that the new U.S. administration seemed to be preparing to withdraw from the global community's effort to deal with a major threat to the future of the world. EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in a statement: "It is very worrying if it is true that the U.S. intends to pull out of the protocol. The EU is willing to discuss details and problems -- but not scrap the whole protocol." German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would urge Bush not to abandon the Kyoto accord when the two leaders meet for the first time in Washington on Thursday, a German government official said.

"We hope the Americans will change their mind, because we Europeans think we have the better arguments," said the German official. "The chancellor will explain the European position." Schroeder wrote to Bush this month urging him to rethink his stand on pollution but has received no reply, the official said. Pacific islands warned that rising seas could wipe them off the map. Island states already suffering devastation because of rising sea levels and severe storms and droughts said their very survival was at stake. British Environment Minister Michael Meacher said: "It was signed up to by every single nation on earth, and if America now tries to walk away ... I think this is not just an environmental issue, it's an issue of transatlantic global foreign policy."

Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill said the collapse of the Kyoto protocol would be "a major step backwards." The country responsible for 30 percent of global greenhouse gases "cannot easily walk away from that responsibility," he said. "Time is against us, we are already starting to experience the consequences of climate change." The tiny nation of Kiribati said it was already experiencing coastal erosion, droughts and severe storms as sea levels rose. "It is a terrible economic problem, it is our very survival," said Baranika Etuati, acting director of the Department of Environment and Conservation in Kiribati. Greenpeace climate campaigner Angie Heffernan, based in the Fijian capital Suva, said Bush's decision was driven by oil, coal and gas interests. "Greenpeace is disgusted and appalled at the United States," Heffernan said.

Japan said on Thursday that it will urge the United States, the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, to rethink its plan to abandon the Kyoto treaty. "In terms of the effectiveness of the Kyoto protocol, the U.S. participation is crucial," Yasuko Ishii of the environment ministry said.

Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson also voiced dismay but said through a spokeswoman that it was important to keep the U.S. engaged, since it was responsible for half of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto agreement was signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton but never introduced to the Senate for ratification.

The criticism began after White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Wednesday: "The president has been unequivocal. He does not support the Kyoto treaty. It is not in the United States' economic best interest." Asked whether the United States would withdraw from the treaty -- contrary to a Bush campaign pledge -- Fleischer said it had never come into force, meaning "there's nothing to withdraw from." He added: "Given the fact that it was voted 95-0 against in the U.S. Senate, it's a clear sign that there is little support, if any." He was referring to a non-binding resolution, passed before the Kyoto pact was reached, that said the Senate could not support any global warming pact that did not bind developing countries along with developed countries.

Environmental activists say the United States has just six percent of the world's total population yet produces a quarter of the globe's carbon dioxide. Bush has frequently expressed his opposition to the Kyoto accord, which the Clinton administration had viewed as essential to dealing with the risks of climate change. Bush has said he did not think mandatory controls on CO2 emissions are necessary. Bush's statements have thrown a wrench into upcoming talks aimed at finding a solution as to how the protocol would be implemented. United Nations talks on implementing the Kyoto agreement and cutting greenhouse gas emissions resume in July 16 in Bonn, Germany.

EDITOR'S NOTES- For coverage of reaction to the US decision, see- NY Times: BBC-European Press Review: USA Today: x.htm Washington Post: MSNBC: Times of India: ITN: The Age: Financial Times: &live=true&tagid=ZZZOMSJK30C&subheading=US

For details on the EU-Troika visit to the US and Canada, see-- doc=MEMO/01/112|0|RAPID&lg=EN

For coverage of the US decision, see-- Washington Post: BBC: MSNBC: NY Times: USA Today:

Additional coverage of the US decision could also be found in-- Financial Times, The Hindu, Times of London, Kyodo News, Sky News, Irish Times, Times of India, Scotsman, Telegraph-UK, Guardian, Independent, New Zealand Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian News, International Herald Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Toronto Star, Boston Globe, CBC, Vancouver Sun, Chicago Tribune, Lawrence Journal World, Ottawa Citizen, Las Vegas Sun, Calgary Herald, C- News, LA Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Knoxville News- Sentinel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, Houston Chronicle, Edmonton Journal, Baltimore Sun, Ottawa Citizen, ABC News, Arizona Republic, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Newsday, Seattle Post, Seattle Times, Fox News


1 April 2001 Internet:

KIRUNA, Sweden (AP) Trying to keep the United States in a worldwide agreement to stem global warming, a negotiator said Sunday he will present new proposals for reducing so-called "greenhouse gases" at a meeting in New York in three weeks. "It's an ambitious package with perhaps a greater chance to be adopted," said Dutch Environmental Minister Jan Pronk, the main mediator in U.N. talks.

He spoke as European Union environment ministers wrapped up a three-day gathering at Kiruna, Sweden, 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Pronk said he hoped the new proposals for implementing the 1997 Kyoto treaty would be more acceptable than those that failed at a U.N. conference last November. "It is my intention ... to do my best to keep the family together," Pronk said.

The April 21 meeting will include ministers from 40 to 50 countries, including the United States. Pronk said he would disclose details of the new proposals ahead of that meeting. The treaty negotiated in Kyoto calls for countries to agree to legally binding targets for curbing heat-trapping gases, mainly carbon dioxide created by burning fossil fuels like oil. They are called greenhouse gases because they are believed to seal heat inside the atmosphere, causing it to heat up.

Signs of trouble for the accord emerged earlier this year when President Bush asked for more time to study the arguments for alternate fuel strategies and renewable technologies. Americans accused Europeans of being unresponsive to U.S. concessions while Europe blamed the United States for holding to a position that would damage the environment.

Last week, Bush administration officials said they would not implement the agreement, which has been signed but not ratified by the United States or any other developed country. The move reversed a position Bush took during last year's presidential election campaign and drew widespread condemnation from world leaders. Pronk said the reversal was a "premature" move by a new administration and he was hopeful they could be kept in the process. "I think it is to a certain extent youngness of the administration and overemphasis on domestic policies rather than on international policy-making," Pronk said. "I would say give them some time to get their act together."

EU environmental ministers on Saturday pledged to pursue ratification of the treaty with or without the United States. Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson is leading an EU delegation to Washington on Monday for climate talks with U.S. officials. The group also will travel to China, Russia, Iran and Japan to lobby for support. Larsson, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said supporters of the pact have a "morally very strong position for the talks." Pronk said the treaty's 2012 target of cutting greenhouse gases by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels was only a start. He cited scientists who say levels must decline by up to 60 percent in the next 50 years or so.

See also- NY Times: =aponline Boston Globe: :.shtml CNN: BBC News: Times of India:


April 1, 2001 Internet:,6903,466551,00.html

The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has launched a powerful attack on President George W. Bush for pulling out of the Kyoto agreement on climate and pollution, accusing the United States of 'free-riding' on the rest of the world and sitting in 'glorious isolation'. The angry attack came as a European Environment Ministers' meeting in Sweden declared that they would go ahead with the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gases with or without America. Protests against the US erupted across European cap itals, with calls for boycotts against US oil companies. Bush also faced mounting opposition at home.

Writing in today's Observer, Prescott, who led the UK's delegation in the climate change talks, said the US 'must know that it cannot pollute the world while free-riding on action by everyone else'. Bush last week formally confirmed that the US - the largest greenhouse gas polluter in the world - would pull out of the international effort to cut emissions of the gases that lead to global warming, particularly carbon dioxide. His main reason was concern about the effect on jobs in America, which has 4 per cent of the world's population and emits a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide.

In Sweden, Ministers insisted that they would push ahead with or without the US. 'The Kyoto protocol is still alive, contrary to what has been said from the other side of the Atlantic,' said Sweden's Environment Minister, Kjell Larsson.' No individual country has the right to declare a multilateral agreement dead.' The 1997 treaty calls for countries to agree on legally binding targets for curbing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

NY Times: pv=reuters BBC:


The Independent 01 April 2001 Internet:

Britain will go ahead and ratify the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gases, despite George Bush's attempt to sabotage it last week, government sources said last night. Ministers hope that the rest of Europe will do the same, and that sufficient countries will ratify the treaty by next summer to bring it into effect, even if the United States refuses to join in.

John Prescott appealed for an international effort to persuade the people of America that global warming is a reality and that the Kyoto treaty is "the only game in town". The Deputy Prime Minister, who brokered the treaty during intensive negotiations in Japan three and a half years ago, rejected as "counterproductive" calls for boycotts of American goods proposed by political figures including John Gummer, the former Tory environment secretary, Alan Simpson, the left-wing Labour MP, and Willer Borden, the Italian environment minister.

But Mr Prescott added that the US now faced a challenge to show that it was a responsible nation that would work with the rest of the world. Sources said that Britain had already protested to the US through its embassy in Washington, but environmentalists are pressing Tony Blair to make good a promise he gave in his last speech on green issues to "challenge" Mr Bush on global warming. They believe that nothing less than a formal letter to him from Mr Blair will make an impact.

Meanwhile France whose President Jacques Chirac has taken a personal interest in the issue has indicated that nations should implement the treaty, if necessary, without the US. Margot Wallström, the EU Environment Commissioner, is to lead a protest delegation to Washington today. Other EU officials will visit Russia, China, Japan and Iran to rally support against Mr Bush's announcement. Jan Pronk, the Dutch environment minister, has also flown to Washington. He chaired last year's Hague talks, which failed to agree on the treaty's implementation, and will chair the next round of talks in Bonn.

Mr Bush's announcement has even angered the US's closest allies on the global warming issue. Japan, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand had all demanded extensive loopholes to the treaty at the Hague negotiations. Japan is particularly angry, having taken Mr Bush's spurning of an agreement reached in its historic capital as a national insult.

The extent of the international reaction has rocked Mr Bush and the small group of right-wing advisers led by his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, who planned the announcement in defiance of the pleas of Paul O'Neill, the Treasury Secretary, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, and Don Evans, the Commerce Secretary.

The announcement was planned carefully so that it could not be easily overturned but, according to sources, the President believed it "would not resonate". He has since been taken aback by the reaction in the US. Sixty-five newspaper editorials have attacked his decision. Commentators are comparing the stance against the treaty with President Clinton's early faux pas on gays in the military, as a defining blunder that will dog the remainder of Mr Bush's presidency.

The announcement has also spurred the Democratic Party hitherto lukewarm about the Kyoto protocol to make global warming a major issue and to press for cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of climate change.


March 31, 2001 Internet:

Joining a barrage of criticism from around the world, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday warning against Washington's decision to pull out of the 1997 Kyoto climate change treaty, designed to stave off global warming. In response to Thursday's announcement by Washington that the United States will ditch the Kyoto Protocol, Mori expressed in the letter Tokyo's "serious concern" over possible consequences that the U.S. decision would have on global climate change, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said.

In the letter, Mori urged the U.S. to participate in the next United Nations conference on climate change, which will be held in July in Germany, and work with the rest of the world to agree on concrete steps to fulfill the protocol, Fukuda said. Mori also called for "efficacious cooperation" between Tokyo and Washington to continue to tackle global warming issues, the top government spokesman told reporters. Foreign Minister Yohei Kono asked Cabinet members Friday to "make Japan's position clear on the issue," Fukuda said.

Environmentalists say the U.S. has just 6 percent of the world's population yet produces more than a quarter of the globe's greenhouse gases. Under the Kyoto treaty, the U.S would have to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and certain other pollutants by 7 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

See also- Kyodo News:


March 29 2001 Internet: &live=true&tagid=ZZZOMSJK30C&subheading=US

Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, has condemned President George W. Bush's repudiation of the 1997 Kyoto agreement on global warming, following a meeting between the two leaders on Thursday. Mr Schröder said that he and Mr Bush had agreed on all issues but one in their first meeting since Mr Bush was inaugurated, referring to Mr Bush's withdrawal of support for the agreement. Mr Bush's decision to reverse his election pledge was also widely condemned by leaders in Japan and the European Union.

The US is the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, and the agreement, originally signed by the Clinton administration, has effectively been left dead in the water by the withdrawal of US support. Its main provision is to commit signatories to reduce total emissions of greenhouse gases by 5 per cent below 1990 levels, in the period 2008 to 2012. US emissions are currently well ahead of 1990 levels. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Bush said he would work with other world leaders to reduce Greenhouse gases, but he added "I will not accept anything that will harm our economy and hurt our American workers."

US allies have been swift to urge Mr Bush to reconsider. The European case, in particular, is expected to be pressed by Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor, who is scheduled to meet Mr Bush on Thursday. Japan, where the treaty was negotiated in 1997, said it would strengthen its efforts to persuade the Bush administration against its decision. Kazuo Asakai, Japan's ambassador for environmental affairs, said his country would be "dismayed and deeply disappointed" if the US turned its back on the treaty. However, Christie Whitman, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, said while the US would remain engaged in the issue, Kyoto treaty signatories would have to find an alternative approach to tackling global warming.

On Wednesday, Ari Fleischer, the White House Press Secretary, said: "The president has been unequivocal. He does not support the Kyoto treaty. It exempts the developing nations around the world and it is not in the United Stattes' economic best interest." President Bush is understood to consider the agreement no longer appropriate, given acute domestic energy shortages. White House administration officials said a cabinet-level task force was exploring an alternative proposal to address global warming through the use of technology and market incentives. But that will do little to placate US allies who believe that the US, which releases about 25 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases but is home to only 4 per cent of the population worldwide, should take responsibility for the potential environmental disaster.

Margot Wallstrom, the EU environment commissioner, said: "I don't think that we should let the United States simply pull out of the Kyoto Protocol." The Swedish government, which currently holds the revolving EU presidency, described the US move as provocative. Kjell Larssen, the Swedish environment minister, said the US appeared to be withdrawing from the global effort to deal with global warning. In the UK, Michael Meacher, environment minister, said Mr Bush's decision was "extremely serious" because global warming "is the most dangerous and fearful challenge to humanity over the next 100 years".

Meanwhile, Mr Schröder has two key reasons to emphasise the issue in his meeting with Mr Bush. His Green coalition partners need to demonstrate progress on the environment to bolster their flagging support; and the chancellor himself is anxious to ensure the next big United Nation climate conference, in Bonn in July, will not repeat last November's failure in The Hague. Back in Washington, Mr Bush's political opponents also expressed dismay at the refusal to ratify the treaty. "The new president came to town saying he would change the tone and change the climate in Washington. I guess we didn't realise it was the real climate he wanted to change", Richard Gephardt, the House Democratic leader, said.

See also-- BBC: ry CNN:


30 March 2001 Internet:

President Chirac of France has become the latest international figure to criticise President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Mr Chirac said all industrialised nations should immediately implement the agreement, which sets targets for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions believed to contribute to global warming.

Addressing the UN human rights commission in Geneva, Mr Chirac said the main question was how to ensure the right to a protected environment.

The European Union is to send a delegation to Washington to discuss the American decision, and today, Belgium which assumes the EU presidency in July, said there would be an EU diplomatic mission to Russia, China, Japan and Iran to gauge support for Kyoto. On Thursday, the German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, told Mr Bush of his concerns about the rejection of the Kyoto agreement.

Today the German Environment Minister, Juergen Trittin, said in Berlin that ignoring Kyoto would not bring the economic benefits Washington imagines -- rather the reverse.

See also- New York Times: =reuters International Herald Tribune:


1 April 2001 Internet:

MOSCOW, Apr 1, 2001 -- (Reuters) Russia fired a shot at Washington on Saturday for rejecting the 1997 Kyoto pact, condemning "one- sided" action over the treaty aimed at curbing global warming. The foreign ministry, in its first comment on the rejection of the treaty by President George W. Bush, said in a statement that careful work was needed to get a treaty to satisfy all. "Attaining this goal cannot come from one-sided steps, but by the continuation of careful and constructive work to find solutions which would in full measure suit all the participants in the framework convention on climate change," it said.

"We support a successful conclusion to the negotiating process on working out mechanisms for the realization of the Kyoto protocol and consider that they should have an all-embracing character," it added.

The European Union has criticized Bush for rejecting the Kyoto treaty, which calls for targeted cuts of carbon dioxide emissions to reduce the risk of global warming. But Canada has said the rigid European stance forced Bush to reject the treaty, which calls on industrialized nations to cut carbon dioxide emissions by on average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Bush said the pact was not in U.S. interests.

Russia is among the world's top polluters after the United States, which is the biggest producer of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.Russia had hoped to benefit from allowances in the Kyoto pact for countries which meet emission targets to sell credits to nations that do not. Russia's emissions have fallen sharply amid economic collapse since the end of communism.

See also- Reuters:


30 March 2001 Internet:

BEIJING, Mar 30, 2001 -- (Reuters) China added its voice on Friday to the global chorus criticizing the U.S rejection of a treaty on global warning, calling President George W. Bush's decision "irresponsible". "The U.S. announcement that it will not meet its emission reduction duties, citing the lack of obligations on developing countries, violates the principled rules of the Kyoto Protocol and is irresponsible," the foreign ministry said in a statement. Bush said this week he would no longer back the international accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions that was reached in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Washington signed the Kyoto Protocol, but it has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. The Kyoto pact aims to reduce major industrialized nations' emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 to avoid disastrous global weather changes.

Bush opposes the pact because it does not also bind developing nations to curb emissions and because he believes the costs outweigh the benefits, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. The foreign ministry statement reiterated China's stance that developed countries should take the lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. "The main source of greenhouse gases are the developed countries and the priority task of developing countries is to develop their economies and eliminate poverty," it said.

China, the world's most populous country, was described in Kyoto as one of the largest total emitters of carbon dioxide, although per capita emissions are much lower than in the rich countries. Much of China's energy comes from coal-burning plants, which fill the urban skies with sulphurous smog, putting its cities at the top the list of the world's most polluted cities. The United States is the biggest producer of emissions of man-made carbon dioxide, which many scientists say is the main greenhouse gas causing global warming. The gases are emitted by power plants, automobiles and other industrial plants.

The Bush administration's flat rejection of the Kyoto treaty has prompted an outcry from Japan, the European Union, Britain and Australia. Some small island states in the Pacific Ocean also criticized the U.S. move, saying global warming has triggered rising sea levels that threaten their existence.

See also- BBC Monitoring Service/Financial Times: query=%22global+warming%22


March 30 Internet:

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway said Friday it was seriously concerned about the future prospects of international climate cooperation after United States President Bush earlier this week rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

``We are very disappointed and seriously worried over the attitudes we now see forming in the U.S,'' Environment Minister Siri Bjerke told Reuters. Norway now joins a flock of world leaders angered after Bush said he no longer backed Kyoto on the grounds that it was not in U.S. economic interests. Bjerke said Norway -- part of the so-called ``umbrella group'' together with the U.S., Canada, Australia and others during the failed talks in the Hague to cut emissions -- had already confronted the U.S for its stance on greenhouse gases. ``Last week we took the opportunity to take this up directly with the Americans in an umbrella group-meeting, where Norway in no uncertain terms expressed its concerns over their attitude,'' she said.

Bjerke was optimistic that the international community would find a solution to get the stranded climate talks flowing again, but said she was uncertain it would be joined by the U.S. in the foreseeable future.

``I can hardly imagine that we can have an effective (global) climate policy without the country representing more than a quarter of the total global emissions,'' she said. ``However, we cannot afford to let this paralyze the international effort either,'' she added. Bjerke said Norway was currently working toward implementing several plans, such as a national emissions quota trading system, to help the country reach its obligations under the Kyoto agreement regardless of whether the U.S. signed the deal.


March 29, 2001 Internet:

ROME--Italy slammed U.S. President Bush on Thursday for shunning an international accord to tackle global warming. Environment Minister Willer Bordon called Bush's decision to go back on the 1997 Kyoto accord "extremely grave" and urged European governments to react. Italy thought it had brokered a deal among the world's most industrialized countries at a summit of G8 ministers in Trieste earlier this month when they pledged to finalize the Kyoto pact.

"International agreements cannot be discarded or made secondary to national politics," Bordon told a news conference. "The United States' rejection of the Kyoto protocol should be denounced, and in a formal manner," he said. Bordon urged European governments and the European Union to put diplomatic pressure on the U.S. to ensure President Bush sticks to the Kyoto accord. If Bush still refused to comply, then "counter-measures should be brought to bear," he added.

Strong protest has greeted Bush's decision to ditch the Kyoto agreement, which aims to slow global warming by committing countries to cut their emissions of a range of gases, including carbon dioxide. The United States, which is responsible for a quarter of all CO2 emissions, agreed at Kyoto to cut output of six greenhouse gases, including CO2, by around seven percent of 1990 levels by 2012. When environment ministers from G8 group countries and Russia met in Trieste in March to tackle global warming and climate issues, the United States reiterated its commitment to Kyoto. But since the Trieste summit Bush has reversed his position, prompting speculation he has given in to pressure from the U.S. oil and coal industry.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Wednesday Bush was "unequivocal." "He does not support the Kyoto treaty. It is not in the United States' economic best interest," Fleischer said. Other environment ministers, senior officials and environmental action groups have attacked Bush's policy turnaround, worried the agreement could collapse without U.S. backing. Bush was due to meet German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the White House on Thursday, when they were expected to tackle differences on environment policy including the Kyoto agreement, which was signed by Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton.


March 30, 2001 Internet:

The Minister for the Environment has condemned the US decision to abandon the Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Minister for the Marine described the decision as "crazy". The Taoiseach was more restrained in his comments on the Bush administration's decision, which was widely condemned yesterday by the Opposition and environmental groups. Mr Ahern told the D áil yesterday morning that he regretted the US announcement. "Ireland will continue to work with our EU partners and other like-minded countries to seek a way forward towards the full implementation of Kyoto," he said.

However, the Minister for the Environment, Mr Dempsey, asked by Labour leader Mr Ruair í Quinn if he condemned the decision, said "absolutely, if it is a decision". He told the Dáil during an adjournment debate on the issue he would be writing to the US ambassador outlining his concerns, and the Government "will work to ensure the concerns of the Government are fully understood at the highest levels of the US administration". Meanwhile, on RTÉ Radio's Pat Kenny Show yesterday, the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Fahey, said it was a "terrible disappointment that he [President Bush] would come out with a statement like that. You would wonder what priorities the American people have." At a time of growing public concern about environmental issues "it's crazy that he would come out with a statement like that".

The Labour Party leader, who raised the issue on the adjournment of the Dáil yesterday, said the decision was "born of isolationism and the short-term commercial needs of those who backed the Republican Party. Yet at the same time it portrayed an administration that would be belligerent and aggressive in the conduct of its foreign policy."

The Fine Gael leader, Mr Michael Noonan, said that in so far as he understood the Taoiseach's policy position, "I support it and we should do everything possible within an EU context to ensure that the Kyoto objectives are implemented in full". The party's environment spokeswoman, Ms Deirdre Clune, called for an immediate meeting of EU Environment Ministers to respond to the US announcement.

Green Party deputy Mr John Gormley accused Mr Bush of acting "in a grossly irresponsible fashion in ignoring the biggest challenge that humanity faces". The PD chairman, Mr John Minihan, called on the Taoiseach to contact Mr Bush and urge him not to go ahead with his decision. Earthwatch called on the Government to "redouble their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while An Taisce called on Mr Ahern "to place the issue of global warming at the forefront of his agenda at EU and UN level".


March 31, 2001 Internet:

MONTREAL, March 30 - An international conference here ended in disagreement today after the United States declined to go along with a Latin American- backed call for industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. The division was a further reflection of the gap that has emerged between the United States and leading allies over the issue since the Bush administration made clear its opposition to the Kyoto accord of 1997, the most far-reaching international treaty on the effort to address climate change.

Senior delegates to the gathering, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said American representatives who tried to smooth over the disagreement had been unable to win approval of a compromise statement that would have stopped short of a call for specific action. But most Latin American representatives issued a statement of their own calling for industrialized countries to "engage in an effort to reduce their domestic emissions of greenhouse gases."

In a news conference at the end of the two-day gathering, a meeting of environment ministers from the Western Hemisphere, David Anderson, the Canadian environment minister, said that there had been general recognition of a need to reduce greenhouse gases but that "there was not total consensus among ministers that we were able to reflect in the final communiqué." The Kyoto Protocol, signed by the United States and 100 other countries but not yet ratified by any industrialized nation, would require industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases 5 percent to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Bush administration, saying that such reductions would be too costly and that in any case developing countries should be bound by similar obligations, has made clear that it has no interest in carrying out the accord and will seek to develop alternative proposals.

Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had headed the American delegation here, but she left the conference on Thursday afternoon, leaving her seat to be filled by subordinates. Delegates said Canada had been among a handful of countries that indicated a willingness to go along with the compromise language proposed by the United States, even though senior Canadian officials had expressed deep disappointment with the American position.

Canadian officials argued that the United States was not the only one to blame for the current discord. They noted that Europe's refusal to accept an American- backed proposal allowing the trading of emissions reductions had led to the breakdown of efforts at The Hague last November to forge an agreement that might have brought the Kyoto Protocol's ratification, and by extension to the Bush administration's decision to abandon any support for the treaty. "Europe adopted a position they knew would force the United States to pull out," said Mr. Anderson, the Canadian environment minister. "This is going to be an ongoing struggle."


1 April 2001 Internet:

MONTREAL: Europe's rigid stance forced the United States to reject the Kyoto treaty on global warming and talks won't resume until Washington finalises a new negotiating position, Canada's environment minister said on Friday. David Anderson said US President George W. Bush had had little option but to stop supporting the Kyoto pact, which calls for targeted cuts of greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide to reduce the risk of a disastrous global warming. "It's not only the Americans who created the problem," Anderson told journalists after a meeting with 32 Environment ministers from the Latin and South American countries. He added: "The problem was the rigid position of the Europeans who thought they could force the Americans to do something they knew the Americans couldn't do."

Bush this week announced that the 1997 Kyoto pact was not in the U.S. interest, prompting a storm of protest in Europe and beyond. In the Pacific Ocean, island states already suffering from rising sea levels said they could simply disappear from the world map if nothing is done. Environment ministers from the Americas, meeting in Montreal ahead of next month's Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, issued a statement urging industrialized countries to pursue their fight against global warming through the Treaty.

Canada had sided with the United States, Japan, Australia and New Zealand in seeking to allow carbon dioxide absorbed by farmlands and forests to be credited toward targeted cuts, but their initiative is opposed by European countries. Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale told parliament that Canada still hoped a consensus could be reached.

"We obviously disagree with President Bush's decision, and we will work very hard to obtain an international consensus to bring down greenhouse gases," he said. A high-level European Union delegation is set to visit Washington next Tuesday to urge President Bush not to ditch the Kyoto pact. But Anderson insisted any negotiated attempt to put the Kyoto process back on track would have to wait before the Americans clearly define their position in the coming weeks. "We are waiting for the American decision. It is they who have the most powerful economy of the world and who produce the highest levels of greenhouses gazes," Anderson said. "I'm not happy that we have to wait, but I know it's necessary."

See also-- Montreal Gazette:


The Age 2 April 2001 Internet:

Federal cabinet is today poised to back the United States in an effective withdrawal from the Kyoto global warming reduction process, hastening the collapse of the international protocol. Key cabinet ministers - backed by Prime Minister John Howard - will argue that a new deal needs to be established, including controls on greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries such as China.

Agriculture Minister Warren Truss signalled yesterday he would support a new approach. "Clearly, there's no great point in Australia reducing its emissions if our near neighbors are under no obligation to do a similar thing," he said. "I hope arising out of the Americans' announcement that we can end up with a better all-embracing announcement in the future." After President George W. Bush announced last week that the US would withdraw from the Kyoto process, Environment Minister Robert Hill said he would lobby the Bush administration to reconsider.

But in a move that could elevate the environment as an issue in this year's federal election, senior government sources last night confirmed that cabinet today is likely to side with the US, with the government sharing the American view that domestic industries will be harmed while other nations are free to pollute extensively.

The apparent division between Senator Hill and Mr Truss follows a long-standing disagreement between them on greenhouse policy. Continued negotiations with the US will centre around the potential for achieving a more effective deal, rather than reviving US interest in Kyoto.

But Senator Hill yesterday insisted Australia would remain committed to its Kyoto targets, telling The Age he was not aware that any of his cabinet colleagues were backing a retreat. "We've signed the Kyoto agreement, and we've accepted what we believe to be a fair target," he said. The 1997 Kyoto agreement is premised on an acceptance that developed nations should take the lead in cutting greenhouse emissions to slow global warming.

But Mr Bush last week announced that the agreement was against America's interests and would not be supported. His announcement infuriated European nations, which believe developed nations must lead the way. Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larson emerged from a weekend meeting of European ministers vowing that the protocol would live on with or without the US. "No individual country has the right to declare a multilateral agreement as dead," he said.

Senator Hill, who will go to New York in a fortnight for further greenhouse discussions, said US involvement was crucial. "If the United States does withdraw from the Kyoto protocol, then that will spell the end of it," he said. But he described Australia's commitments under the protocol as fair and reasonable. "We've always said that everyone should reduce their emissions - both developed and developing nations - we've always accepted that (the absence of developing nations) was one of the shortcomings of the agreement," Senator Hill said.

Mr Truss said Australia had secured a "good deal" under the Kyoto agreement and it was important that any new deal reproduced the special considerations Australia received.



March 30, 2001 Internet: .html

South Pacific nations have expressed "extreme disappointment" at a U. S. decision not to support a treaty to curb global warming. Samoa was one of 16 Pacific Island Forum members to speak out on Friday against U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol. The agreement commits 37 industrialized nations to cut gas emissions in a bid to stop global warming. The President of Samoa, Tuila epa Sailele told the United States is a world leader thinking of its "self-interests" and not of responsibilities beyond its shores.

Tuila epa said he hoped Bush would change his mind as low-lying islands could be "wiped out" by rising sea levels. Many Pacific island atolls, just a few feet above sea level, are facing the threat of disappearing beneath the ocean and they fear devastation by cyclones. The Pacific nations said on Friday they would take their concerns to a higher level, including the United Nations, a heads of Commonwealth meeting and a Pacific forum later this year. They issued a statement saying "the announcement by the U.S. not to support the Kyoto Protocol is disappointing given its influential role". The U.S. is the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gas.

Bush stance Bush argues the United States will not back the 1997 international accord on the grounds it is not in the economic interests of the United States. "We also have an energy crisis. And the idea of placing caps on carbon dioxide does not make economic sense for America," Bush said. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he understood the U.S. concern, particularly in wanting to include developing countries in the climate change pact.

"What President Bush is concerned about, and it is an understandable concern, is you can't really have a comprehensive agreement unless you get the developing countries inside the tent," Howard said in a radio interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "I don't think he is wrong in relation to wanting the developing countries involved. He's not wrong about that. But Australia is right in continuing to work to get an agreement, which includes developing countries. Howard was pessimistic about the U.S. reversing the decision. "They won't change their mind in relation to the involvement of developing countries," he said, adding he had had no contact with the U.S. administration on the issue.

World outcry The U.S. policy stance has sparked harsh criticism with the European Union pledging to send a high-level delegation to Washington next week to urge Bush to reverse the decision. Japan too is hoping there is still time for a reversal. The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Friday sent Bush a letter urging him to reconsider his rejection of a global warming treaty. The pact seeks to reduce major industrialized nations' emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Scientists widely believe greenhouse gas emissions -- which result mostly from burning coal and oil -- trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming which can cause disastrous weather changes. The protocol was signed by the United States, but the U.S. Senate has not ratified it. The next round of Kyoto treaty talks are set to be held in Bonn in July.


March 27, 2001 Internet: pv=reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. environmentalists were up in arms Tuesday over Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman's efforts to further distance the United States from an international treaty to limit global warming. In addition, sources told Reuters that the Bush White House has told proponents of the Kyoto treaty -- mostly European Union nations -- to stop pestering Washington about the U.S. climate change position. ``We have also heard the EPA is preparing a memo on possible alternatives to the treaty. We know they have told countries to not send letters of complaints,'' said one environmental source.

Kyoto is shorthand for an international treaty to reduce major industrialized nations' emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Scientists widely believe that greenhouse gas emissions -- which result mostly from burning coal and oil -- trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming which can cause disastrous weather changes. Whitman Tuesday separated the American interest in the actual Kyoto treaty and its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, effectively saying the treaty was dead, according to sources familiar with her comments.

``She was saying that Bush recognizes the science behind global warming, but not the targets, timetables and lack of developing countries' participation,'' said another source with a green group. ``She said there was no interest in pursuing the Kyoto Protocol, given the opposition on Capitol Hill.'' Others present at a briefing held by Whitman noted that not one industrialized country has yet ratified the Kyoto pact.

U.S. LOSING CREDIBILITY? Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said the White House position dangerously erodes U.S. credibility with its friends in Europe. ``The president has walked away from yet another campaign promise on global warming, and infuriated our allies in the process,'' Clapp said. ``Declaring the Kyoto negotiations dead rather than proposing changes which would make it acceptable will delay action on global warming for years and years.' The next round of Kyoto talks are slated for July in Bonn, where some expect the Bush administration to present alternatives. Jennifer Morgan, director of climate change issues for the World Wildlife Fund, said Bush was turning his back on nine year of negotiations if Kyoto is allowed to die. ``It's not like he can just pick up his marbles and go home because he doesn't like the treaty,'' Morgan said.

An EPA spokesman said Whitman did not declare the treaty dead Tuesday. Supporters of the Bush climate policy noted that Whitman is simply restating previous statements by the president on his problems with the actual terms of Kyoto. Opposition to the framework is based mainly on U.S. complaints that developing countries like China are not included in the targeted emissions cuts. American negotiators, under the Clinton administration, also wanted to rely more on market trading mechanisms to reduce U.S. emissions than European allies could accept. The Clinton administration has signed the treaty, but negotiations to settle the final terms of the 1997 framework could not be finalized during the last year of his term.

BUSH REVERSAL ON C02 President George W. Bush initially raised the ire of greens worldwide and European allies earlier this month by flip-flopping on a campaign promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants. Bush said the energy crisis in the United States forced him to rethink the campaign pledge, and he told key Republican senators he would not commit to carbon cuts. Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas blamed by many scientists for causing global warming. The United States emits the most carbon dioxide, accounting for some 25 percent of the world total.

Green groups note that even if the United States opts out of the treaty, the pact would not necessarily die. Under current language in the agreement, if countries representing the equivalent of 55 percent of the world's emissions ratify, then it would be in force. There is limited support for the treaty within the U.S. Senate, which must ratify any international pact.


March 30, 2001 Internet:

WASHINGTON - Frank Loy, the lead negotiator for climate change issues during the Clinton years, yesterday blasted President George W. Bush for rejecting the Kyoto treaty, saying the move was a "drastically bad" decision which imperils international action on global warming. Loy, in a telephone interview with Reuters, said his former negotiating partners, notably from the European Union, were "dismayed and angered" by the new administration's decision to turn away from Kyoto and seek alternatives to the 1997 pact.

"I think this (decision) is a total, unmitigated disaster," Loy said. "He pulled out without any alternative, no international back-up plan." "They're (allies) very angry for several reasons ... on a personal level since they put in enormous amounts of effort. They assumed there would be changes (with Bush), but not a withdrawal," Loy said.

During the last round of climate change talks held at The Hague in November, Loy was the meeting's hard-liner, pushing for unpopular American positions. He was even struck in the face with a pie during the failed talks by a protester. The United States is the world's biggest producer of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Many scientists say carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas causing global warming and weather disruptions. The gases are emitted by power plants, automobiles and other industrial sources.

BUSH, SCHROEDER DISAGREE ON KYOTO Terms of the Kyoto framework called for targeted cuts of greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized nations. By 2012, the major economic powers were to cut emissions blamed for global warming by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. Bush has scotched some nine years of international talks by saying he does not like the Kyoto treaty, feeling it would harm American economic interests. The first sign of trouble for Kyoto came earlier this month, when Bush rejected the advice of his own environment secretary, Christine Todd Whitman, and rejected imposing limits on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants.

Bush yesterday, before meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said the United States would work with its allies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "We'll be working with Germany, we'll be working with our allies to reduce greenhouse gases, but I will not accept anything that will harm our economy and hurt our American workers," Bush told reporters.

The Bush administration's flat rejection of the Kyoto treaty prompted an outcry from the European Union, Britain, Japan and Australia. Some small island states in the Pacific Ocean also criticized the U.S. move, saying that global warming has triggered rising sea levels and severe storms and droughts. Environmental ministers from Sweden, Belgium and the EU plan to meet with Bush aides early next week to hear what steps the United States is considering to curb greenhouse gases.

IS KYOTO TREATY DEAD? Loy, who was undersecretary of state for global affairs at the State Department under President Bill Clinton, said it was especially disappointing that the move to sweep away Kyoto came only months after the Hague talks. During the last moments of the November talks, Loy said the U.S. thought it had fashioned solutions to the three biggest disputes between Washington and the developed nations: the need for domestic action on reducing emissions and limits to emissions trading; carbon sequestration; and compliance.

Loy said it was hard to imagine Kyoto surviving without U.S. participation, though less so than before Bush decided to reject the pact. The United States is the largest emitter of man-made carbon dioxide. "I have always felt it was foolish and quite probably impossible to talk about putting Kyoto into effect without the United States," Loy said. He said he reasoned some countries, like Japan and Australia, would show reluctance to join in making sharp emission cuts without American participation. "The politics would be hard," he said. The treaty also faced opposition from the U.S. Senate, which must ratify any international pact involving the United States. The next round of Kyoto treaty talks is set for July in Bonn.


BBC Monitoring Service/Financial Times Mar 29, 2001 Internet: query=%22climate+change%22

Text of report by South African news agency SAPA web site

Parliament, 29 March: Environmental Affairs Minister Valli Moosa used the occasion of a debate in the National Assembly on the South African Weather Service Bill to sound a strong warning on global warming and its disastrous consequences. He also strongly criticized industrialized nations for their failure to "get their act together" on the reduction or control of greenhouse gas emissions. "A major, major matter of concern... [ellipsis as received] is the breakdown in the developed world on the question of climate change. "For many years the world has been trying to do something about reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, which gave the greenhouse effect around the globe."

The biggest polluters were the United States, followed by Europe and Japan. Yet the developed world was unable to agree on a programme towards, if not just reducing, at least controlling the emission of the greenhouse gases which caused global warming, Moosa said. Negotiations on this matter had broken down. "To those of us who are not a part of the polluting globe, this is a matter of grave concern. "We need to bring the big polluters of the world to book, because they are not just polluting their own countries, but the atmosphere as a whole." In a few decades, the consequences - particularly for the smaller island nations - would be disastrous.

"Some of these could be completely flooded over within a few decades. I would like to register our own deep concerns on this matter, and I think that I can say with confidence that the South African government urges the developed nations to get their act together," Moosa said. The House unanimously passed the South African Weather Service Bill, which aims to transform the current weather bureau into an agency which will charge for its services. "Agentization of the weather service provides us with the unique opportunity to generate revenue to sustain its operation beyond what the public purse can fund," Moosa told members. There was scope for implementing a sophisticated cost recovery operation in certain areas - such as the aviation industry - and for market- related business activities in others. "(It) also provides us with an opportunity to prioritize the transformation of the racial and gender human resources composition," he said.

Top management of the current weather bureau is understood to be 100 per cent male, 80 per cent of whom are white. The bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Source: SAPA news agency web site, Johannesburg, in English 1439 gmt 29 Mar 01


March 30, 2001; Page A11 Internet:

A broad coalition of U.S. religious groups alarmed by President Bush's decision to abandon a treaty to combat global warming urged Bush yesterday to reconsider his approach or risk alienating a growing faith-based movement committed to protecting the environment. Leaders of the inter-denominational groups challenged Bush's decision on religious and moral grounds as well as on scientific evidence that Earth's temperature is rising and could trigger catastrophic climate and weather changes.

"If credible evidence exists to indicate our present course could threaten the quality of life for God's creation and God's children, this becomes an issue of paramount moral concern," the leaders said in a letter to Bush. The letter from seven religious leaders is significant because of the influence faith-based groups are exercising on the Bush administration and on Republican congressional leaders. Last year, for example, GOP leaders dropped their opposition to a Clinton administration plan to write off loans to 30 of the world's poorest countries under pressure from Pope John Paul II and an international network of religious groups.

In a March 6 memorandum to Bush after returning from a meeting in Italy with European environmental ministers, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman noted: "For the first time, the world's religious communities have started to engage in the issue. Their solutions vary widely, but the fervor of the focus was clear." The letter to Bush was signed by leaders of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Metropolitan Orthodox Church in America and the Jewish Theological Seminary. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs wrote separately voicing its concerns.


April 1, 2001 Internet: rchpv=aponline

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three fourths of Americans consider global warming to be a serious problem, according to a poll taken after the Bush administration announced it will pull out of an international agreement aimed at combating climate change. More than four in 10 said they consider the problem very serious and three in 10 said it was fairly serious. In addition, two-thirds said President Bush should develop a plan to reduce the emission of the so-called greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, according to the CNN-Time poll released Sunday. By a 3-1 margin, Americans said they believe emissions of gases like carbon dioxide are causing global temperature increases. Three-fourths of Democrats and half of Republicans said they believe such emissions are causing temperatures to increase.

People were evenly split on whether they would be willing to pay 25 cents more per gallon for gasoline to reduce pollution and global warming. A decade ago, six of 10 were willing to pay that much more. A majority, 55 percent, said the government should require improvements in fuel efficiency for cars and trucks, even if it means higher prices and smaller vehicles. Four in 10 disagreed. The poll of 1,025 adults was taken March 21-22 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

See also-- Fox News: Boston Globe: .shtml


31 March 2001 Internet:

WASHINGTON-WORLD energy demand will grow by nearly 60 per cent over the next two decades, with one-half of the growth expected to occur in developing countries, particularly in India, China and South Korea, according to a US report. Persistently high world oil prices, stronger than anticipated economic recovery in south-east Asia, and two consecutive years of robust economic growth in the former Soviet Union have all had an impact on the mid-term outlook for world energy use, the US Energy Information Administration report released on Thursday says.

The report, "International Energy Outlook 2001", says the rate of growth of worldwide energy and emissions of carbon dioxide - believed to cause global warming - would be considerably higher except for continued improvements in energy intensity. It says energy intensity - defined as energy consumption per dollar of GDP - is expected to decrease in the industrialised world by 1.3 per cent between 1999 and 2020.

Energy intensity is also projected to decrease in the developing countries - by 1.4 per cent per year - as a result of improving standards of living that accompany the projected expansion in economic growth.

In 2000, world oil prices rebounded strongly, reaching a daily peak of $37 per barrel, rates not seen since the Gulf War of 1990- 1991. The report says the high prices can be traced to a tightening of production by the Opec and several key non-Opec countries (Russia, Mexico, Oman, and Norway) and even a full year of robust prices did not significantly relax the industry's tight profitability standards, especially for riskier offshore, deepwater projects.

Oil demand in the recovering economies of south-east Asia rebounded more rapidly than anticipated after their 1997-1999 recessions. In the IEO 2001 Reference Case, oil prices remain at current levels of $25 to $28 per barrel until 2003 when they return to the price trajectory anticipated in last year's outlook for the mid-term. (IANS)

See also- ENN:


March 28, 2001 Internet:

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil is bracing for energy shortages and maybe rationing as water levels in power plant reservoirs grow perilously low ahead of what promises to be a long, dry winter, officials and analysts said. Government officials in Latin America's largest country admit they may impose quotas on the use of electric energy to prevent crippling blackouts in the next few months. Some analysts draw a gloomier picture that actually includes power cuts and massive blackouts - a damaging prospect for a sector that is in the midst of privatization and needs to garner investor confidence.

"It is almost impossible not to have power cuts this year," said Osvaldo Teles, power sector analyst with BBV Securities. "Last year we had the worst drought in 100 years, but now the situation with water reservoirs is even worse."

Unlike another famous energy crisis - in California, where corporate practices and soaring prices are to blame - Brazil's long, water-related woes are rooted in the country's dependence on hydro resources. Nearly 90 percent of all Brazil's power comes from hydroelectric plants, which makes the country of 170 million hostage to nature's will. Rain water is supposed to fill he reservoirs in the first two or three months of the year. A senior official at the Mines and Energy Ministry told Reuters that reservoirs in the main industrial areas in the southeast and central east were two-thirds empty. Only one month is left to make them half-full in order to live through the June-August period without power problems.

"Rains are not matching the expectations. The refilling of reservoirs has been pitiful, " said the official, who declined to be named. "Quotas for energy consumption are probably the most likely option at the moment." He added that power imports from neighboring Argentina, now at 1,000 megawatts (MW) annually, could be increased soon.

ENERGY LOSSES ALSO TO BLAME Brazil generates about 70,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity annually, and consumes all but an estimated 5 percent of total output. Analysts say this cushion may prove to be too small this year due to the water shortages and the continuing growth in demand for power. Imports can be increased, but they would not be able to solve the problem as Brazil does not have enough transmission lines to send the energy to regions that need it the most. The Mines and Energy Ministry and the National Electricity Agency (Aneel) are mapping out a contingency plan, which should be ready by April and include measures aimed at boosting power generation and "lowering consumption". Minister Jose Vasconcelos said over the weekend that the reductions in demand for power would be implemented through "rationalization" of energy usage rather than "rationing".

He did not go into details, but the recently appointed minister has complained in the past of energy losses of up to 15 percent due to irrational use. The ministry's senior official said that any quotas on consumption would be designed to bring no damage to the industrial production in order not to slow down the country's fledgling economic growth, projected at four percent in 2001. But some analysts said that if it comes to power cuts, the government would only be able to choose the key industries to be spared. Power distributors will get hit anyway as they sell less and are locked into fixed prices.

Aluminium industry officials have already voiced concerns that any rationing would in the first place affect their electricity-hungry sector. They say this would hit Brazil's fragile trade balance as most of the product is exported. For all analysts and officials, fresh power problems underline the need for more thermoelectric plants and the use of alternative sources of energy, such as wind or solar power.

The government's 1999 "emergency plan" that encouraged the construction of gas-fired power plants and the still-fledgling industrial use of natural gas, will only bring fruit after August, when several power plants enter into operation. Teles said the government still has to offer better conditions to investors for them to pour cash into new plants. The first thing to be done, he says, is to start adjusting electricity tariffs every three months, as is the case of imported natural gas, and not every year. "Otherwise, investment in is too risky," he said.


30 March 2001 Internet:

SOFIA, Mar 30, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Bulgaria on Friday banned the use of crucial water supplies for industrial and irrigation purposes after reserves dropped to critical levels followiing historically low rainfallThe unprecedented ban was aimed at saving water for the summer, after levels in reservoirs stored behind dams dropped to barely a quarter of levels last year, said environment ministry official Assen Lichev.

The winter had been unusually dry, he added. "The spring rains are also not enough. Parts of the north and southwest of Bulgaria are the most at threat of drought." Under a ministry decree, the water could only be used for producing energy or other industrial purposes "in extreme need." Last year was the dryest in 20 years in Bulgaria, leading to water rationing for more than one million people, or 22 percent of towns and villages. ((c) 2001 Agence France Presse)


03/26/2001 Internet:

OSHIMA VILLAGE, Japan, March 27 (Reuters) - As the sun sets over the island-specked coast of southern Japan, abalone fishing boats trail back to the small port of Oshima. On the piers, fishermen check rows of dangling light-bulbs on their night-going vessels before heading out to sea to catch squid. But for Yasuo Kajiki, the local prefecture fishing cooperative chief who has witnessed these timeless routines for more than 30 years, something has changed -- the catch is growing smaller each year. "We have more efficient equipment than before, but somehow we only manage 40 percent of what we used to catch 30 years ago when I started out," Kajiki says.

Scientists in Japan believe they know why, but it is an answer that points to global implications and it fills them with fear. The very cold and very deep seas that surround this sea-going, fish-eating archipelago are warming up, and that could spell disaster. Industrial pollution, overfishing and competition with neighbouring China, South Korea and Russia are often blamed for the loss of the sea's bounty around Japan's islands. But scientists now see a disturbing change in underwater currents triggered by global warming as the main culprit behind what fishermen have been experiencing for several years.

RESEARCH RAISES DOUBT At CREAMS, the Centre for the Research of East Asian Marginal Seas, a joint research team of scientists from Japan, South Korea and Russia, has since 1993 accumulated enough data to confirm what the fishermen fear. They have been measuring the currents, salinity and oxygen levels up and down a stretch of water in the Sea of Japan. What they have found confirms their worst fears.

The Sea of Japan's deep currents, which circulate nutrients for surface plankton and life-providing oxygen underwater, are slowing and failing, said Professor Yoon Jong-Hwa of the Research and Institute for Applied Mechanics (RIAM), a Japanese branch of the CREAMS project based in the southern city Fukuoka. As this sea is considered by oceanographers to be a "model ocean" due to the complexity of its currents and geography that often mimics the greater oceans, the implications are enormous.

"If you look at water temperatures in the northern part of the Sea of Japan over the past 50 years, they've been rising definitively up 1.5 to three degrees, and global warming is thought to be behind this," said Yoon. "It is possible that the Sea of Japan is one of the first expanses of water affected by global warming, if that is the case, then we very much fear that eventually the world's major oceans will also be affected," he said.

DEEP SEA, DEEP FEARS The underwater currents of the Sea of Japan are created by a rare phenomenon in which a bitter winter wind blown through a narrow opening in the mountain range bordering the Russian Far East cools the sea in a way that triggers a downward current. Only seven other such vertical downward currents have been recorded worldwide, including one off Greenland that is believed to be the starting point of the Atlantic's rich Gulf Stream. The complexity of much of the world's ecosystem depends on these currents, often known as global underwater conveyor belts.

The plankton whose life depends on the nutrients that the currents bring up from the ocean floor also consume and store much of the world's carbon dioxide. A reduction in the plankton will mean more carbon dioxide in the air, accelerating the process of global warming into a vicious cycle, Yoon says. Global warming is a phenomenon whereby an excess of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are released by human activity, warming the atmosphere and creating meteorological havoc. The earth's atmosphere naturally contains large amounts of cardon dioxide but human activity, such as burning fossil fuels in cars and power stations, is pushing the amount of the gas above historic levels. Scientists have calculated that the earth's atmosphere has already warmed 0.6 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years and this may be behind the recent increase in droughts and floods worldwide.

The United Nations, in a report released in January, said the earth's atmosphere is warming faster than expected. The report projected the earth's average surface temperature will rise 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius (2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit) between 1990 and 2100, higher than its 1995 estimate of a one to 3.5 degree C rise (1.8 to 6.3 degrees F).

A FISHERMAN'S GUT INSTINCTS The fishermen of Japan are not surprised. "There's been a change in the currents, in the water and in the air, I feel it in my bones," says 68-year-old Kajiki, patriarch of the small fishing community of Oshima. "That's why our catch has dropped over the years. Kajiki's fishing village is not alone. Latest figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show Japan's fishing industry output from oceans around the archipelago has fallen 46 percent from just 10 years ago.

From the Sea of Japan, the fall is even more alarming -- a slide of 62 percent. "If these conditions continue for some time, within 300 to 350 years the deep waters of the Sea of Japan will become anoxic (devoid of oxygen)," Yoon said. Such a change is too sudden for life to adapt and survive, Yoon said. As for the fishing communities that live on the ocean's bounty, they are painfully aware of the bleak future. "We used to believe that the fruits of the ocean were limitless," said Kajiki. "Now we have to impose our own fishing quotas and fishing seasons. "I can't imagine what the next generation will have to do, whether they will even be able to make a living from the sea."

See also- MSNBC: Reuters:


28 March, 2001 Internet:

Ancient tree stumps uncovered in a South American earthquake have provided the most detailed picture yet of the world's climate before the last ice age. An international team looked at the seasonal growth rings in 28 examples of Fitzroya cupressoides, a conifer from the region. They found what seems to be early evidence of El Niño, the largest single source of modern weather variation, which is caused by a cyclical movement of warm waters in the Pacific.

The researchers say the trees, from Pelluco in southern Chile, provide an unprecedented weather record from 50,000 years ago. "What it has done is give us a first glimpse of year-by-year records," explained Dr Keith Briffa of the University of East Anglia, UK.

'Lottery win' The scientists were able to study the trees as a result of two natural disasters. The first covered up and preserved the trees around 500 centuries ago. The second, in 1960, began to bring the trees back to the surface. "It is a bit like a lottery win," Dr Briffa told BBC News Online. "There was a bit of tectonic movement in 1960 which allowed erosion to expose the remains." Dr Briffa is co-author of a study of the trees, which is published in the journal Nature. He helped analyse the data collected from the ancient specimens, and put together information from separate trees to make one single 1,229-year climate record.

Bigger picture "It is probably the oldest ever, continuous, annually resolved chronology," he said. By studying the annual growth spurts, dendrochronologists can get an idea of the seasonal conditions that existed year on year through a tree's life - how warm it might have been, the amount of moisture that might have been in the soil, etc. Well-preserved or subfossil trees have been found before in Tasmania and Siberia, but they were around 10,000 years old - much younger than the Chilean samples. The data will be more significant once they can be linked to other evidence of ancient climate variation - what scientists refer to as proxy data. "At present, most of our information is from oxygen isotopes in ice cores in Greenland and studies have been done tying this in with ocean sediments," Dr Briffa added. These data allow researchers to build a picture of what the Earth's climate was like before humans were around to make written records.


30 March 2001 Internet:

Australian scientists have returned from Heard Island with new evidence of dramatic climate change at the remote Antarctic site. Coastal glaciers on Heard are retreating, the sea level is rising and vegetation expanding at this wilderness on the edge of the polar climate zone. The changes are being linked to a combination of the human-induced greenhouse effect, and longer-term climate change. The scientists see Heard, a 253-square kilometre semi- active volcano 2200 nautical miles south-west of Perth, as a precursor of climate change elsewhere.

Fifty-eight people on the largest Australian scientific expedition to Heard in decades spent up to five months there before returning to Hobart yesterday. For botanist Dana Bergstrom, it was her first return visit in 14 years, in which time one glacier had retreated 500 metres. "The island is basically breaking up into bits (at the coast) as the glaciers retreat, and vegetation is starting to expand dramatically," she said.

Glaciologist Andrew Ruddell said that since observations began at Heard in 1947, the island had lost about 12 per cent of its glacial cover. Dr Ruddell, of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, said geothermal heating from the Big Ben volcano was unlikely to be affecting the ice. Larger glaciers near the volcano's peak were unchanged compared with those on the coast, where the sea surface temperature had risen by up to one degree.


Mar. 27, 2001 Internet:

An aerial view shows the nuclear submarine USS Hawkbill during a tour to gather information about ancient ice sheets in the Arctic. Giant, floating ice sheets may have covered the entire Arctic region periodically during the ice ages that occurred on Earth between 10,000 and 1.5 million years ago. The formation and fate of these ancient masses of ice may help climate scientists predict whether the melting of today's polar ice could lead to disastrous floods in the future.

Scientists on a submarine commissioned to take sonar images under the Arctic ice have found tracks on the seafloor that remain from the movements of enormous ice sheets. A research team led by Leonid Polyak from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University obtained sonar images of the Arctic Ocean floor through the Science Ice Exercises, or SCICEX.

This five-year collaborative research and data collection project, carried out from 1995 through 1999, was sponsored by the Navy's submarine community, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation. Polyak's collaborators, Margo Edwards of the University of Hawaii and Bernard Coakley of Tulane University, were chief scientists on a 1999 SCICEX mission aboard the nuclear power-attack submarine USS Hawkbill.

A week after leaving its homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on March 18, 1999, for its last SCICEX mission, Hawkbill transited the Aleutian Islands and dove beneath the ice of the central Bering Sea to begin eight weeks of exploration. The scientists wanted to update their knowledge of ocean warming in the Arctic region, a growing concern. The SCICEX sonar images taken during the mission revealed the features carved into the seafloor. Some were matching sets of parallel grooves and ridges in two separate, somewhat elevated regions of the Arctic Ocean: Lomonosov Ridge near the North Pole and Chukchi Borderland near Alaska.

Sometime in the past, Polyak said, the bottom of a massive, floating ice sheet scraped across the seafloor in both areas almost one kilometer (.62 miles) below the water surface at Lomonosov Ridge and more than 700 meters (.5 miles) below the water surface at Chukchi Borderland. The sonar images showed objects resembling rocks and other debris that Polyak says may have been dragged along the seafloor beneath the grounded ice.

"Such amazingly coherent sets of streamlined grooves and ridges could only be made by one thing: sliding ice," Polyak said. Only a large ice sheet could carve such a broad set of parallel features. Free floating icebergs, he explained, carve random patterns into the seafloor. The finding may add weight to a theory held by some scientists, namely, that one giant ice sheet covered the entire Arctic periodically during the ice ages that occurred between 10,000 and 1.5 million years ago. But Polyak believes the same features might have been carved by several large ice sheets instead of just one. To find out, the scientists must determine whether the features formed at the same time in different regions of the Arctic Ocean.

To answer this question, Polyak and his team have applied for funding to revisit the Arctic on an icebreaker to take core samples from the seafloor. "Even if there were two or more ice sheets instead of one, they were still giant structures of several hundred miles in length, comparable to vast floating ice sheets observed today around Antarctica," said Polyak. Unlike the ice in East Antarctica, the ice in West Antarctica is considered unstable because a large portion of it is floating. For years, scientists have debated whether a warming of the Earth's climate would cause the ice sheet in West Antarctica to collapse, which would cause sea levels to rise quickly, possibly as high as 20 feet all over the world.

"Who knows? Maybe clarifying the history of floating ice sheets in the Arctic Ocean will even help us understand the evolution of ice-bound planets such as Jupiter's moon Europa," Polyak said. The study of ice sheets appears in the March 22 issue of the journal Nature.


March 29, 2001 Internet:

(CNN) -- The world's plants are devouring carbon dioxide at record rates in recent years, according to data from an advanced satellite gauging carbon as it cycles through the global environment. Observations from the orbiter should give unprecedented insight into how the planet functions and should improve models that predict global climate change, scientists said. The amount of carbon consumed by land plants and ocean algae rose from 111 billion metric tons during the peak of the El Nino season in 1997-1998 to 117 billion metric tons during the strong La Nina that followed, according to NASA researchers. They based their findings on three years of global data from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), which has ridden aboard the OrbView-2 spacecraft since 1997.

Ocean algae accounted for most if not all of the increase during the study. Land plants exhibited no such global trend, although some areas experienced noticeable changes. The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Science this week, remain puzzled by some of the observations. The initial increase in carbon fixation was largely due to the response of marine plants to a strong El Nino to La Nina transition, said the scientists. But the cause of the continued increase during the latter portion of the record is not yet known.

"We can see seasonal changes in plant and algae chlorophyll levels very well," said lead author and NASA oceanographer Michael Behrenfeld in a statement. "But we don't have a long enough record to distinguish multi-year cycles like El Nino from fundamental long-term changes caused by such things as higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere." Plants and algae use chlorophyll in photosynthesis, during which they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ocean. The process plays a critical role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The SeaWiFS record marks the first time that a single instrument has observed the carbon intake of plants and algae worldwide. NASA plans to produce a five-year study using data from SeaWiFS and two sibling satellites, Terra, which was launched in December 1999, and Aqua, which is scheduled for launch in late 2001. Oceanographers have used SeaWiFS to study the migration patterns of turtles, deadly blooms of algae and the long-range movement of air pollution. El Nino and La Nina refer respectively to the periodic warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean. The complimentary weather patterns can each last several years or longer. They can dramatically affect the severity and number of extreme weather events across the world, including droughts, hurricanes and rainstorms; and disrupt the food chain in the oceans.


March 29, 2001 Internet: pv=reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ozone-eating clouds that erode Earth's protection against ultraviolet radiation are born in thin rings of supercold air over the North and South Poles, scientists reported on Thursday. The Sun's ultraviolet rays could cause skin cancer in humans and biological damage to other living things if Earth were not shielded by the ozone layer high in the atmosphere. But polar stratospheric clouds made of nitric acid and water deplete this protective layer. Scientists have known about the clouds for years, but U.S. researchers have just discovered the bands of frigid air in the stratosphere that help to create them, according to an article in the current edition of the journal Science. And as the Earth's surface gets warmer, due to heat trapped by so- called greenhouse gases, the stratosphere gets colder, making it an even better place to create the ozone-depleting clouds, NASA researcher Azadeh Tabazadeh said.

The more these high polar clouds proliferate, the slower Earth's recovery from ozone depletion, Tabazadeh said in a telephone interview from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center in California. The polar stratospheric clouds do their work by sucking nitrogen out of the cold air. Because they are made up of large particles, each the size of a bit of road dust, the clouds are heavy and pull out the nitrogen as they fall toward Earth, Tabazadeh said.

Nitrogen is important because it reacts with the chlorine in human-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Now banned under international agreements, CFCs have long been identified as a prime cause of ozone depletion. The polar stratospheric clouds pack a double punch, Tabazadeh said: they take away nitrogen, which can mitigate the effects of ozone depletion, and they also activate chlorine, which spurs ozone depletion. Still, if Earth's climate stayed constant, the ozone layer should start recovering because CFCs are being limited. But Earth's surface climate is warming, which means the stratosphere is cooling.

``The surface warming causes a cooling in the stratosphere and the cooling promotes more ozone depletion,'' Tabazadeh said. ''Global warming is actually affecting the ozone depletion.'' ``I think the best thing to do is try to control the global warming issue,'' she said. ``And that could be controlled by less emissions of greenhouse gases and also less emissions of soot. It's very hard to regulate.''


29 March 2001 Internet: .stm

The government in Pakistan, which is suffering a severe drought, has asked scientists to look at the possibility of melting glaciers to provide water. The chairman of the Flood Commission said it was one option they were examining although there were many potential pitfalls. Pakistan has suffered a drastic fall in its annual rainfall and the harvest is expected to be extremely poor this year.

For the past three years Pakistan has suffered from a drought but this year the situation is desperate. Scientists are examining all possible options to provide some relief to farmers. One proposal involves melting part of the glaciers in the northern region by spraying on charcoal, which raises the temperature of the ice.

Destabilising effect However, the chairman of the Federal Flood Commission, Riaz Ahmad Khan, said the proposal was at a very preliminary stage and they were simply looking into which other countries had tried the method. He said that, even if they went ahead with the plan, it would have limited application and they would have to be careful not to cause environmental damage or destabilise the glaciers. There have also been suggestions that lasers could be used to melt the ice. However experts say even if the plan proves to be feasible it would only provide a short-term solution to the continuing drought.

Situation worse this year Aid agencies say rainfall is down more than a third and snowfall has been poor. Last year there was also a drought but a bumper harvest helped the country to pull through. This year the situation is far worse, many farmers are in debt, their cattle have died and there is little pastureland. Aid agencies plan to carry out a survey of the worst affected areas to ascertain the extent of the crisis.


March 28, 2001 Internet:

LONDON - The developing world is running out of water at an alarming rate, a new study by the London-based agency "Tearfund" shows. Two out of three people around the world will live with a drinking water shortage by the year 2025 unless drastic changes are made quickly, the report says. And these two in three will be living in developing countries. Through the 1990s there were 143 droughts worldwide, affecting 185 million people, says the report "Running On Empty". "Population growth, poor water management, overuse of underground water supplies and global warming are combining to create the specter of millions of the world's poorest people remaining locked in poverty due to a lack of water, " the report warns.

The crisis is upon us right now, the report says. Two thirds of China's cities are facing severe water shortages. In India, the capital New Delhi will run out of ground water by 2015 at present rates of loss. Lake Chad in Africa has shrunk from 6,900 square miles to 1,500 square miles in the last 20 years. The number of people facing serious food shortages in eastern Africa has risen to nearly 20 million because of widespread drought.

"Global freshwater consumption rose six-fold between 1900 and 1995, at more than twice the rate of population growth," the report says. The world's population will increase by 3 billion in the next 50 years and a majority of these people will be born in countries already experiencing water shortages, the report says. By 2025, 25 countries in Africa will be subject to water stress measured at an availability of 1,700 cubic meters per person per year. Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, India and Pakistan will have levels well below 1,000 cubic meters per person per year. These levels have been described by the United Nations as "catastrophic", the report points out.

The British government has recommended a target of reducing by half the proportion of people who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water by 2015. To reach that target investment in water will have to increase between US$300 billion to $600 billion, the Tearfund report warns.

A drought running three years has parched Pakistan, Iran and India, the report says. It has hit Afghanistan hardest. The drought is causing people to move to camps in Pakistan, or to move around within Afghanistan, the report says. In Iran that drought has affected 37 million people - about half the population. Around 60 per cent of Iran's rural population might be forced to migrate to cities, the report warns. In Eritrea, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in the search for water and escaping from conflict, the report says. "In Ethiopia, large numbers of people now depend solely on food assistance for survival each year because they have lost their livestock and livelihoods due to drought," the report says.

China is facing "devastating water shortages which can no longer be blamed on unusual weather patterns". The Yellow River, one of the biggest northern rivers, now regularly runs dry; in 1997 it ran dry for 226 days of the year. "This is the result of the large number of unmanaged demands made on it by households, industry and agriculture," the report says. "The drought in the North has forced the government to take drastic action by diverting the Yangtze from the South, but this action could cause the river to run dry by 2020." The crisis is hitting Chinese cities in unexpected ways. "Shanghai is sinking because of the amount of ground water being extracted from beneath it," the report says. "Altogether, two thirds of China's cities are facing severe water shortages."

Poor governance underlies many of the reasons for water shortage and drought, the report says. "It accounts for the failure to manage the different demands on water, to legislate and enforce water conservation methods and to find new investment." Good management can overcome natural shortages greatly, the report says. Israel and the southeast of England have low availability but "because of strong regulation leading to good management and high levels of investment, there is a good level of sustainable water supplies".

The dwindling supplies across the developing world will be made worse by rising population in these areas. In Europe, which largely has sufficient water, the population is projected to fall by 2025. With increased demand come lower supplies. Groundwater supplies about one third of the world's population with fresh water. Water tables are falling by as much as a meter a year in parts of Mexico, India, Yemen and China. The heaviest human claim on water is agriculture. It uses 70 percent of fresh water across the world. In Asia and Africa the proportion rises to 90 percent, the report says. This raises difficult questions about the distribution of water.

Global warming is accelerating the problems, the report warns. The 1990s were the warmest decade since measurement began in the 1860s. Scientists believe that higher temperatures will lead to decreased water supplies as deserts expand and evaporation rates increase. Rivers will dry up as droughts intensify. The melting of the polar ice caps will increase the amount of water in oceans and lead to the intrusion of salt into freshwater bodies. "In addition, coastal flooding will worsen, and islands in the Pacific could disappear altogether," the report warns. Shortages can lead to conflicts, the report says. "As the scarcity of water increases, countries will be prepared to go to war for such an important resource, especially as so many countries rely heavily on water from rivers which originate outside their borders."

Tearfund recommends that in order to tackle the crisis the issue of water should be placed high on the agenda at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. "Traditional methods of water conservation, in addition to new technologies, should be re- discovered by the international community, with the participation and knowledge of local communities," the report says.

National governments should redouble their efforts to meet commitments made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by 2012, and "investment in water supply, sanitation and water resources should be dramatically increased". The Tearfund report suggests that the "full value water should be recognized by making sure that water is paid for by industry, large-scale agriculture and the better off, but that targeted subsidies are given to those unable to afford to pay the full price". The international development target that commits all countries to implementing National Strategies for Sustainable Development by 2005, should be monitored and enforced, the report says.


March 27, 2001 Internet: pagewanted=all

Near the dead center of North Africa, where water has long been scarce and long-term drought is making it scarcer yet, one of the last large water bodies, Lake Chad, has shrunk by 95 percent since the 1960's, and new research points to irrigation as a major cause. The rapid retreat of the shallow lake threatens fish stocks and crops and could raise political tensions because the lake and the rivers that nourish it are shared by four countries, say the scientists who conducted the study, which was published last month in The Journal of Geophysical Research.

The problem is feeding on itself, as a three-decades-and-counting dearth of monsoon rains that normally swell the region's rivers has prompted the construction of irrigation projects that divert ever more water from the same rivers, said Dr. Michael T. Coe, a hydrologist at the University of Wisconsin, and a co- author of the study. The drop in precipitation and the rise in irrigation appear responsible for equal parts of the extraordinary shrinkage of the marsh- fringed lake, which has shriveled from an area of 9,700 square miles in 1963 to less than 580 square miles now.

"We've shown that people are as big an influence as natural variability," Dr. Coe said. The relative contributions of human activities and natural climate shifts were determined using computer models set up to simulate the natural water cycle in the region. The cycle starts from June to August, when an annual burst of monsoon rains falls in the mountains of Cameroon hundreds of miles south of the lake. This happens just as the lake reaches its shallowest, smallest size for the year. It takes about six months for the pulse of rainwater to reach the lake, which then blossoms in January over the parched land, growing sixfold in area as it does so.

Using 40 years of data on regional climate and water flows, the scientists found that the model closely replicated the actual changes measured in the lake level and extent - at least from the early 1960's until 1980 or so. From then on, though, the shrinkage far outpaced what was predicted. The early 1980's also saw the start of a burst of construction of internationally financed irrigation systems diverting water from the Chari and Logone rivers, which carry 90 percent of the runoff that enters the lake. Together, the change in weather patterns and a fourfold rise in irrigation have since reduced the flow in the two rivers by 75 percent, the study said.

The model consistently showed that about half the loss of lake water was due to the rise in irrigation. In centuries past, the lake has varied enormously in area under natural influences alone, Dr. Coe said. Satellite photographs show submerged sand dunes that were once sculptured by wind. And, he added, ancient shorelines carved 60,000 years ago show that Lake Chad was once the size of the Caspian Sea, about 150,000 square miles. But in time spans relevant to the people living in the region today, he said, it is clear that trouble looms. The population around the lake, in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, stands at about 750,000 people and is growing quickly, even as the water supply steadily drops. "The future there now depends on what people do," Dr. Coe said. "We're pretty much saying that they're working with really finite resources."


27 March 2001 Internet:

KARACHI, March 27: The rising sea level at the Karachi coast, coupled with possible implications of global warming, is feared to expose the city and the surrounding localities to a serious situation if hit by storm. Dr Shahid Amjad, the Director-General of the National Institute of Oceanography, speaking at an orientation workshop, jointly organized by the WWF-Pakistan and the UNDP, here on Tuesday said the tidal amplitude at the Karachi coast had reflected a variation of three-meter rise in the mean sea level in the past several years, which could be threatening in case of a storm as had happened in Thatta-Badin districts in 1999.

"Massive erosion of coastal areas in Thatta and Badin following the storm severely affected the top soil turning the land saline, and had a devastating impact on the natural habitat," he said. Discussing the issue of pollution of international waters and the Small Grants Programme Initiative, he stressed sensitization at all levels to protect the habitat which was being threatened not only due to global warming but also due to extensive pollution of wetlands and sea waters. The 320-km long coastal line in Sindh, which holds a vast treasure of gas/ oil, mangrove plantation, fish and other seafood, is under serious threat due to discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial, agricultural and domestic sewage into the sea. Recorded and unrecorded oil spillage by containers and power plants pose another threat.

The issue of trans-boundary pollution was also highlighted as marine pollution, specifically, does not remain restricted to any particular site, and has thus become the equal responsibility of all to adopt measures to avoid the threat. Local NGOs, with the support of international organizations, could play a significant role in this regard. Referring to the importance of mangroves, Dr Amjad said on an average one hectare of mangrove could support the production of 100kg fish, 15kg crab meat 200kg molluscs and 40kg sea cucumber and stressed the need to protect the mangroves of the country spread over 240 hectares.

An environmental engineer and executive member of the Shehri-CBE in his presentation, Global Warming and Climate Change: Issues and Concerns in Pakistan, attributed the threat from global warming mainly to the rapid and unplanned urbanization of the country. Abdul Munaf Qaimkhani, Assistant Conservator of the Sindh Wildlife Department, talked about threats to bio-diversity in Pakistan and presented a bleak picture in this regard mainly due to ignorance on the part of locals leading to over-exploitation of many of the mammals and fish species.

Green revolution, though a necessity, had led to deforestation besides polluting the land and subsoil water due to extensive use of pesticides and insecticides, he said adding this had also led to genetic changes in many of the animals. He said growing activity of the timber mafia and industrial development were also having a negative impact on the bio-diversity of the country. He said the drought had also taken its toll at the Kirthar National Park as 117 animals, including urial and black bucks, had died last year.

He emphasized the need for sustainable use of resources. Dr Ejaz Ahmed, Deputy Director-General of the WWF-Pakistan, in his address of welcome discussed the aims and objectives of the orientation workshop and said such workshops would also be held in Hyderabad, Sukkur and Khairpur in the next couple of days. Representatives of some 20 NGOs from Sindh and Balochistan attended the workshop.-APP


PBS NewsHour March 28, 2001 Internet:

A recent study suggests global warming is altering marine life in Monterey Bay. Spencer Michels reports.

JIM LEHRER: A spokesman for President Bush made it clear today the U.S. was no longer interested in the Kyoto treaty on global warming. Spencer Michels has been looking into that debate, and here is his report.

SPENCER MICHELS: On the shores of California's Monterey Bay, a tide pool is revealing information about global warming that scientists here say bodes ill for the world's environment. The pool is just out the back door of Hopkins Marine Station. A few years ago, Rafe Sagarin, then a Stanford undergraduate working under Professor Chuck Baxter, used maps found in an old thesis from the library to find metal markers that had been pounded into the rocks about 70 years before.

RAFE SAGARIN: There were four originally, and we found two. One is out where those seals are, out there...

SPENCER MICHELS: The markers had been installed in the early '30s by Willis Hewatt, another Stanford student, who used them to intensely study a strip of tide pool one yard wide and 100 yards long. When Sagarin found Hewatt's Ph.D. thesis, he had a ready made baseline for examining the exact same designated area, or transect.

RAFE SAGARIN: It was really exciting, just the whole treasure hunt for finding the bolts that marked the transect, and it was very important because we were able to take a square-yard frame, which is exactly what Hewatt did, and put it down in the exact same place that he put down a square-yard frame, and compare that exact area to what happened now.

A 'catastrophic' signal SPENCER MICHELS: Sagarin and his colleagues counted more than 125,000 tidal animals. With the average winter water temperature a degree higher than in Hewatt's day, he found that many of the old species had disappeared from this intertidal zone, and new ones had moved in.

RAFE SAGARIN: What we're seeing here is species that are really dominating the community, like this anemone, that have come from the south and are doing well here, really thriving.

CHUCK BAXTER: It has now become one of the dominant anemones in the intertidal, and it is a southern form, so it's one of the ones signifying change in the community.

SPENCER MICHELS: It's rare that scientists could quantify so accurately the effects of warmer weather. Sagarin says his conclusions go beyond the life in this tide pool.

RAFE SAGARIN: These animals are-- and plants-- are all sort of indicators that indeed, climate is changing, and it's having effects on living things. And we are still a natural species-- we depend on living things for everything-- so those effects are going to carry up all the way to the human realm.

SPENCER MICHELS: The director of the Hopkins Marine Station, George Somero, has watched the tide pool research, and his conclusions are even broader.

GEORGE SOMERO: Now, I see these changes that we're finding in marine communities as being a catastrophic situation. It's not effecting human beings yet to a very great extent. If it should turn out that the West Antarctic ice sheet begins to ebb, and as sea level rises, and if you are living on a coastal community, then the message may start coming across. And I think the intensity of storms that global warming is likely to trigger, again, is going to get a message across.

The threat of extreme weather SPENCER MICHELS: Somero is at one end of a continuing debate over global warming and its effects on the earth. A vocal minority either doubts its existence, or says there is no reason to worry. But most mainstream scientists say its consequences could be serious. They say global warming occurs because gases including carbon dioxide form a lid on the earth's atmosphere. That lid prevents some of the heat from escaping. Instead, it is reflected back to the earth's surface, where it raises temperatures. That's called the greenhouse effect. At Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, delegates from all over the world agreed that all nations need to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO2. But no country has yet endorsed the rules agreed to at Kyoto. And three years later, a meeting at the Hague collapsed when participants couldn't agree on how to proceed.

SPOKESMAN: There's no deal. It's closed up.

SPENCER MICHELS: This year, a UN panel on climate change concluded that man-caused global warming not only exists, but threatens major changes in plant and animal life. Steve Schneider, an environmental scientist at Stanford, worked on the report.

STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: Not only do we think it's going to get warmer, and maybe unprecedentedly warmer, but we may change the incidence of extreme events-- that is, droughts and floods, heat waves, El Nino might intensify, and perhaps the most worrisome of all to me is increased intensity of hurricanes, because it's the top-end powerful storms that do most of the damage.

SPENCER MICHELS: Schneider and his colleagues say that one degree Fahrenheit of warming in the last century is pushing nature around. Glaciers are receding, lake and river ice is melting earlier, birds are migrating from the tropics sooner, marine communities are moving North along the California coast, and coral-- very sensitive to temperature change-- is dying, or bleaching, threatening to ruin the economies of areas that depend on it for tourism.

STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: So far, I would argue that we can't claim that's done any harm. But what it says is that even the one degree Fahrenheit is sufficient, now, to cause an impact on nature. And the projections for the future are, if we're lucky, a few degrees more, and if we're unlucky, ten. And ten, to me, would be certainly catastrophic for nature.

More CO2: 'A good thing'

ANCHOR: When we strip away all the scare headlines and oversimplifications, a very different picture emerges.

SPENCER MICHELS: The Greening Earth Society, which made this film, is one of several industry groups that have not subscribed to the predictions of global warming catastrophes. The Western Fuels Association sponsors the society, which claims that more CO2 will benefit America, not harm it.

ANNOUNCER: Carbon dioxide is a plant nutrient that causes faster growth, increased yields, and improved water use efficiency, and this translates into more vigorous tree growth worldwide.

SPENCER MICHELS: President Bush joined the doubters when he recently decided not to press for a reduction in CO2 produced by American coal and natural gas power plants, reversing a campaign pledge.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We got an energy crisis in America that we have to deal with in a common sense way.

SPENCER MICHELS: His turnabout followed intense pressure from the coal and utilities industries, which say reducing emissions would increase energy costs. In a letter to four Senators, the president said: "This is especially true given the incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of and solutions to global climate change, and the lack of commercially available technologies for removing and storing carbon dioxide." The president's decision was applauded by Thomas Gale Moore, former economic advisor to Ronald Reagan, and now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

THOMAS GALE MOORE: The evidence at the moment is that we have had a buildup of carbon dioxide, and that's leading to a greener world. We have more plants. In the northern hemisphere, they grow more vigorously, they grow faster, they're going further North. I would think that a greener world is a better world because we all either... all animals either eat plants or eat animals that eat plants, including us. So more plants is a good thing.


THOMAS GALE MOORE: More weeds and more... and more redwoods.

SPENCER MICHELS: Moore, who wrote a book on global warming, says studies show it could even have positive economic effects in the United States.

THOMAS GALE MOORE: All the economists who have looked at it have concluded the effects are going to be minuscule for the United States. Trying to do something about it, however, they all agreed is going to be very costly. Let us take a little bit of the money that we'd spend on Kyoto and spend it on helping Bangladesh be able to protect them from sea surges which occur anyway, and help the people get rich. It's a much better way to go than this futile Kyoto.

SPENCER MICHELS: But Schneider says that the economic argument, even if it turns out to be partly true, is shortsighted.


It's very likely that we'll be looking at increased endangerment, and probably quite a lot of extinctions. Now, if that's not into the economic calculations of those people who say it's good for you, all they're thinking about is corn plants and dollar return on investment. I think they're out of touch with the value system of most the people in the world.

RAFE SAGARIN: So I would kind of count a bunch of them at once.

SPENCER MICHELS: While the debate continues, so does the study of tide pools for additional evidence of changes due to warming.

RAFE SAGARIN: The intertidal animals are telling us something. And although I don't expect most people to care all that much that there's been a big species composition change in the intertidal, when it affects them and the health of their families, it is a serious issue.

SPENCER MICHELS: And yet more research is on the horizon. The Department of Energy recently announced it will join with the University of Maryland to look into climate change, ways to curb carbon dioxide emissions, and economic impacts of global warming.


March 29, 2001 Internet:

LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - Floods, drought, melting ice caps and mass migration; the perils to the world from climate change have been well documented. Now fund managers are being urged to sit up and take more notice. Just as home owners worry about subsidence resulting from summer droughts, so investment managers need to think ahead for the winners and losers in the corporate world arising from what has been called mankind's greatest challenge.

"Why is (climate change) important to the investment world? Because the world is going to change," Andrew Dlugolecki, a consultant to the insurance world on global warning and who has worked for CGNU Plc, told a seminar last week. Damage to property, water shortages, crop failures and the potential displacement of millions of people threaten to change the face of the world as we know it. And Dlugolecki warned that after 2100 the world could see "catastrophic change."

Many business sectors will be affected but some, such as the energy and water industries, will find it harder to adapt to any new global regulatory framework and new technologies. "They'll be the ones to face political and public pressure," Dlugolecki added.

POLITICAL SPAT Yet arguments still rage over the seriousness of the threat, raising doubts if action to limit global warming will go ahead. The Greenpeace seminar -- "Climate Change and the Energy Sector: Investment Implications" -- was held at the London Stock Exchange last week, just as Europe and the United States became embroiled in a row about global warming. The spat first erupted after a decision by U.S. President George Bush to reverse an election campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations because the scientific evidence on climate change was incomplete. Then on Wednesday the United States effectively abandoned the Kyoto treaty as not being in its best economic interests.

The European Union has said talks are "urgently needed" to follow up on the failed conference at the Hague last year that sought to ensure United Nations' CO2 emission targets are met. The EU also said last week that the issue was an integral part of U.S.-EU relations. The 1997 U.N. agreement, the so-called Kyoto Protocol, calls for developed countries to cut "greenhouse gas" emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Such gases, mainly due to burning oil and coal, are blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing global warming.

UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher told BBC television on Thursday it was "almost unthinkable" for the United States not to be part of the agreement. "(Global warming) is the most dangerous and fearful challenge to humanity over the next 100 years," he told the BBC. Dlugolecki said last week it was "disappointing" Bush had reversed his position so quickly, but was hopeful U.S. business -- active in developing new technologies -- would lead the way. Stephen Tindale, who is to be the new chief executive of Greenpeace and was special adviser to UK Environment Minister Meacher, is hopeful Kyoto would go ahead, even without the United States, the biggest producer of greenhouse gases. Tindale told the seminar that such a deal would still lead to lower emissions and would send a message to global business that the world was serious about the issue.

CHANGING WORLD Tindale told fund managers the impact of climate change was already forcing companies to adapt. For example, air pollution -- which he says causes up to 24,000 premature deaths in the UK each year -- was forcing car firms to respond to the development of leading edge technology like fuel cells and hydrogen engines. "Market forces are eventually going to leave fossil fuel companies sending a message to investors," he said.

Mark Mansley, of Claros Consulting, who advises on socially responsible investment, said while energy companies are the most obvious stocks at risk from new regulations and technology, they were not the only ones. Fund managers should consider the investment risks inherent in utilities, because of the emissions they produce, and to car companies, where engine efficiency is the issue. Some transport companies, such as train and bus operators, may be at the forefront of new technology and be worth a punt, while others, like aviation companies, are more risky. Even food retailers may be deemed a risk due to their heavy power needs.

Yet energy companies are clearly the ones most at risk. Greenpeace took advantage of its seminar to announce it was again targeting BP Amoco Plc, the world's third biggest oil company, at its annual general meeting on April 19. At last year's AGM, Greenpeace won 13 percent of a vote on a resolution calling on BP to switch away from oil exploration to renewables. In a special resolution this year, Greenpeace wants BP to explain to shareholders how it intends to move away from fossil fuels and become a sustainable energy company.

RISKS TO BP? Greenpeace went one step further last week with a case study that showed BP could lose five percent of its earnings over the next 20 years as petrol sales decline in the long-term switch to green fuel technology and as moves to cut CO2 emissions bite. "The oil industry is particularly vulnerable to any move to curtail global emissions and to competition from low carbon technologies," Martin Whittaker, managing director of financial advisers Innovest, which was commissioned to write the report. He said BP's plan to boost oil and gas output could increase its exposure to climate change- related risk and its shareholders were right to ask what the group intends to do about such risks.

BP, which last year adopted a new logo and the catchphrase "Beyond Petroleum" to boost its green credentials, disagreed. "We're actively working on reducing carbon dioxide emissions as we grow," a BP spokesman said. "We believe we are well placed for changes in the market... The world needs energy and non-fossil fuels will become viable as they become cost effective." The arguments will go on but the worry must be that time is running out. "Our analysis shows that we have 30 to 40 years before burning fossil fuels start to wreck our ecosystem," Greenpeace Climate Campaigner Stephanie Tunmore told the seminar.

Fund managers have been warned; pick your stocks with care.



Washington Post Saturday, March 31, 2001; Page A20 Internet:

AS HE TURNED away from the Kyoto protocol this week, President Bush picked up a heavy burden: to quickly produce a clear and compelling alternative for addressing the problem of global warming. It's not enough just to say what he won't do, or to argue, as he did on Thursday, that the current economic and energy situation justifies rejecting long-term solutions such as caps on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The interests of Americans at home come first, Mr. Bush said. But what about Americans' interest in protecting their future by seeking to avert the floods, droughts, disease and disruptions that scientists see arising from unchecked global warming?

It's not hard to point out problems in the Kyoto process. The protocol sets ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but emissions continue to rise in many industrial nations, including the United States and Japan. The last round of talks on implementing the protocol ended in failure, with the United States and European nations split over how much credit to give for carbon reductions achieved through forest and agricultural management. Though U.S. negotiators said they believed agreement could have been reached with just a little more time, the division emphasized the distance between the kind of provisions needed to help win U.S. ratification and the terms acceptable to the European countries. The president and many in the Senate also want any international agreement to bind developing nations as well as industrialized ones to emissions targets; developing nations want to be sure they're not locked into low standards of living.

The Kyoto protocol capped years of good-faith international negotiations aimed at implementing the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty signed by former president George Bush and ratified by the Senate. That treaty commits the United States to working with the rest of the world to lower greenhouse gas emissions and commits developed nations to taking the lead in that effort. As the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States has a special responsibility to act. So far, though he continues to say he takes the problem seriously and wants to work with other nations, President Bush has offered only the rejection of a major tool for reducing emissions at home, and a snub to the existing international effort. His aides say answers will come from a Cabinet-level review of climate policy now underway; by his actions so far the president has both narrowed the panel's options and increased the pressure for its members to come up with a meaningful alternative in a hurry. Otherwise Mr. Bush, by using today's headlines as an excuse to duck tomorrow's problems, has only made the solutions that must eventually come more costly and difficult.


Financial Times Mar 30, 2001 Internet: query=%22global+warming%22

George W. Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming is disappointing but not a surprise. Even if the US president had been an enthusiast for measures to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, there was little chance that Congress would have enacted them. The US pledged at the Kyoto conference in 1997 to reduce carbon emissions by 7 per cent in the two decades from 1990. But it later emerged that this commitment was based partly on a fudge. To soften the impact on its own industry, the US intended to meet the target by "buying in" questionable reductions from Russia and to count the absorption effect of its forests as credits against pollution.

Still, even a flawed commitment to the protocol would have been better than none at all. Without the US, the rest of the developed world will have the greatest difficulty in agreeing a worthwhile regime at the next climate change summit in Bonn, in July. Even in Europe, where the political will has been strongest, difficulties have been emerging. In Britain the government gave way last year to strong protests against high fuel duties. And throughout Europe industrialists are likely to oppose energy taxes, especially those that would reduce their competitiveness with the US.

Such difficulties would probably have emerged without the negative approach taken by Mr Bush. Any credible attempt to stop the gradual warming of the earth would require enormous resources over many decades. Persuading democracies to make the necessary sacrifices was always going to be difficult.

For that reason, European politicians and environmentalists must resist the temptation to heap recriminations on Mr Bush. It is true that the US emits twice as much carbon dioxide per head as the average in developed countries and 10 times the average in the developing world. But after a decade of very rapid economic growth, the US confronts a special problem. It has reduced its dependence on energy impressively - but not by enough to prevent its emission of greenhouse gases from rising by about 10 per cent since 1990. The Kyoto target for 2010 could not now be met without the risk of a severe shock to the economy. But having inflicted a deep wound to the Kyoto process, the Bush administration must rapidly find a new basis for dialogue with its partners. Many scientific uncertainties surround the forecasts for global warming but there is clearly a danger of disruption on a cataclysmic scale. If Mr Bush doubts this, he should ask his father. It was President George Bush who signed the UN Framework Convention on Global Warming in 1992. Since then the temperature has risen. The 1990s proved to be the warmest decade of the century.


New York Times April 1, 2001 Internet:


SAN FRANCISCO - President Bush and Christie Whitman, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have now definitively abandoned any intention to regulate carbon dioxide from utilities and confirmed that they oppose the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to fight global warming.

Many the world over are speculating on the significance of these moves, some countries concluding they can relax their own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, others despairing that the United States may not lead on the environmental issue of the era.

Is there another way to address the problem of climate change while accommodating the Bush administration's concerns about the science and the costs of a climate policy? Is there a conservative response to global warming?

I believe that a distinctive Bush policy on climate could involve three parts. First, the administration should ask the National Academies of Science and of Engineering to review the scientific evidence on climate change and the availability of energy- efficient technologies - both issues on which the president has expressed concern. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently concluded that anthropogenic emissions have "contributed substantially" to warming. The National Academies could be asked to review the panel's findings, along with the state of technologies. In this way, President Bush could fulfill his campaign promise to follow the science on climate.

Second, the administration should ask the private sector what it can achieve by way of energy efficiency. What is practical and cost-effective, and how quickly can it be done? It is little known, though quite astonishing, that 11 major companies, eight of them American, have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a total that exceeds the reductions required of Britain under Kyoto. United Technologies, I.B.M., Baxter, Polaroid and others have committed to improve energy efficiency, or to cut carbon dioxide, by at least 25 percent.

And those who say these are only commitments should look at DuPont, the nation's largest chemical company, which has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and promises to cut them by 65 percent by 2010. It has also pledged that 10 percent of its energy needs will be met by renewable sources by that time. After consulting carefully with companies, the administration should identify realistic goals for the major sectors of the economy. Auto executives, for example, have indicated that their industry cannot make the substantial changes called for by Kyoto in the next seven years but could achieve major improvements in 10 to 15 years. The president needs to get the automobile companies and other important industries to spell out what they can achieve and then commit to these goals.

Finally, we must realize that very few countries are cutting emissions; most will not come close to equaling the reductions required of the United States by the Kyoto Protocol. Many nations would support the administration if it instead made a convincing commitment to abide by the 1992 international convention to combat global warming - which President Bush's father signed - while also agreeing to exceed the goals of Kyoto over a longer period of time. Such commitments would permit a more orderly replacement of capital equipment and put to rest concerns that energy taxes are required or that electricity supplies would be disrupted.

President Bush and many in the Senate have decried the Kyoto Protocol's failure to require cuts in greenhouse gases from developing countries. But the United States must have a cogent, credible policy before it can speak with authority to developing countries. China, second only to America in its emission of greenhouse gases, has actually reduced its carbon emissions over the past five years. The Chinese, in an effort to curb suffocating air pollution, have reduced coal subsidies, switched to cleaner transportation fuels and converted power plants to natural gas from coal. Helping the Chinese to make further progress could be another distinctive element of the Bush climate policy.

In sum, there is another way: Review the state of science and technology, involve the private sector, set realistic goals and seriously engage developing countries. This is the path toward energy efficiency and progress on the environment.

William K. Reilly, chairman of the World Wildlife Fund, was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the first Bush administration.


The Guardian March 30, 2001 Internet:,3604,465350,00.html

Suddenly, in the space of two short months, America, the "indispensable nation", begins to resemble the ultimate rogue state. George Bush's decision to trash the Kyoto global warming treaty is appalling. That it represents an enormous, possibly definitive setback for efforts to mitigate climate change goes almost without saying. America is now confirmed as the unrepentant outlaw, the dirty man of environmental politics. The decision is doubly appalling for what it says about the new man in the White House. Mr Bush, clinging to his "national interest" credo, seems incapable of seeing the big picture. He does not grasp the basic truth that America's national interest is inextricably intertwined with the global interest. America, for all its dominance, is but a part of the world we share. America's consumers depend for their unsurpassed living standards on shared global resources. America's greenhouse emissions are not confined to American airspace. Nor is the US immune from the negative impact of its national profligacy and international climate change. By this blinkered action, Mr Bush strengthens suspicions that he is just not big enough for his job.

But most appalling of all is the message, taken alongside similarly short-sighted, self-centred actions in the fields of defence and diplomacy, that this Taliban-style act of wanton destruction sends around the world. Instead of leading the community of nations, Bush's America seems increasingly intent on confronting it. Instead of a shining city on a hill, the world sees a dark smokestack belching fumes. From a nation that began by heroically trumpeting its belief in universal values common to all mankind comes a devastatingly different, divisive and nationalistic jingle: we do what we want, for ourselves, regard less of the consequences for you. And if you don't like it, well, tough.

Is this message sent on purpose? In other words, does the Bush administration actually understand what it is doing? For look at the record so far. It has dangerously upset the strategic balance by proposing a new national missile defence system while scrapping another treaty, the key ABM accord with Russia. It has attacked Iraq while signalling elsewhere, notably in the Balkans, that it will reduce its commitment to shared security, especially through the UN. It has gone out of its way to antagonise Russia and done much to convince China that it must ready itself for war. Its economic policy has meanwhile merely stoked fears of a US-exported recession.

Bush's America has all but abandoned, for now at least, its leading role in the Middle East and gone a long way towards scuppering detente on the Korean peninsula. On a range of fronts, not least over Nato and trade, Washington is also shaping up for conflict with the EU. And now, to cap it all, ignoring the Stockholm summit's direct plea, and at the very moment the German chancellor is crossing the White House doorstep, it tells Europe that Peoria's pocketbook comes first, so take your fossil fuel fuss and stuff it.

If Mr Bush does not intend the alarm all this is causing internationally, then he is even more inept than commonly believed. Christine Whitman, his environment agency chief, told him this month that global warming "is a credibility issue for the US in the international community". She is right and he had better believe it. In the end, America, big though it be, cannot go it alone. It needs friends. But that even the oldest friendships have limits is a lesson Mr Bush has yet to learn. Humility is another. Wisdom may be too much to hope for.


31 March Internet:

PRESIDENT George Bush proved conclusively this week that while he may be green, he is not a green. To widespread fury in Europe, his officials aired their intention of pulling out of the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming. Even Margaret Thatcher, to this day revered by American conservatives as the only British politician worth knowing since Winston Churchill, took global warming seriously. In 1989 the then Prime Minister warned UN delegates of a "vast increase" in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. Ten years later, President Bush, to all appearances, does not. First he reneged on an election promise to limit the carbon dioxide emissions of coal-fired power plants. Now he is proposing to kill the Kyoto treaty, the laboured result of an international dialogue on climate change that Mrs Thatcher herself had called for.

The Bush Administration has made so many enemies of late that it might do well to start counting its friends. The Russians and Chinese are jumping up and down over the proposed National Missile Defence, capped by a couple of old-fashioned spying rows. The tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati denounced the US action on Kyoto for threatening to drown it under rising seas. With the level of indignation from Europe, meanwhile, one could be forgiven for thinking that the next war will be fought between the Western allies rather than by them, with the stakes being the future of the world's environment.

Mr Bush's personal thinking on the environment has been hard to fathom, but both his supporters and detractors agree that it has wavered. The obvious suspicion is that he views the subject with the narrowed eyes of a small-town Texas oilman. "Clearly they are listening to the oil and coal industry and extremely conservative ideologues, not looking at scientific or economic analysis of the issue," complained Dan Lashof, global warming analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, meeting Mr Bush in Washington today, was ready to tax him frankly for "lazy thinking", according to aides. "This is one of those issues where one can say from a basis of real friendship: 'Dear friends, we are of the opinion that if you abandon Kyoto, you are in the wrong',", Mr Schröder told the Los Angeles Times. Mr Bush had begun, earlier this month, with a U-turn on an election promise to restrict the sooty emissions of coal-fired electric power plants. Most observers blame California's rolling blackouts on a botched deregulation program; Mr Bush cited it as evidence of an "energy crisis" that demands opening up Alaska's wilderness to new oil exploration.

"There is fear in Europe that the administration will pay no attention to the aims defined in Kyoto," Mr Schröder said. A day later, it was no longer a fear, but a certainty. Mr Bush's decision on Kyoto, flew in the face of appeals from Mr Schröder and other European leaders. But it delighted and surprised American conservatives and energy industry lobbyists. They are ecstatic over his decision. "We had been working towards it," said Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington. "But it's so surprising because its a bold move, so decisive and so unlike his father, who would have fudged or have done something to paper it over."

There was also an element of relief. At the outset of his campaign, the Texas Governor put his opposition to Kyoto to the record, saying then as now that the US, though the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases with five percent of its population, could not go along with a treaty that excluded developing countries. But in the middle of last year, conservative lobbyists were biting their nails. Alarming reports emerged, according to Mr Ebell, that Mr Bush and his campaign team were taking briefings from Fred Krupp, an old-time Republican who now heads Environmental Defence, a 300,000 member heavyweight American conservation group. Whether or not he was playing to moderate voters, Mr Bush began talking in public about taking global warming seriously, and that it could be a bigger problem than he thought.

But by this month, the signs of a shift back were undeniable. The Bush Administration drummed the Clinton Administration's leading expert on global warming out of the National Security Council; conservatives complained that "hold-overs" from the old regime were bending Republicans to their will.

Mr Bush, in a letter to Congress, cast doubt on carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming. His aides rejected a study by the Clinton Administration's Energy Department suggesting that America could phase in emission controls at the price of a few tenths of a percent of its gross domestic product. They cited a smaller survey prepared for a conservative Congressman that predicted a $300 billion cost to the US economy. Underlining the switch, Environmental Defense jumped on Mr Bush's decision in a press statement this week in which Mr Krupp condemned it as "bad environmental policy and bad foreign policy". "It is bad for America's interests for the United States to be seen as the rogue nation of greenhouse gas pollution," he said.

The US differs from Europe in the lack of a cross-party consensus on global warming; Mr Ebell derided what he said was a "religious" belief in the theory in Europe. Global warming, in the US, has become an political baseball. There is a rumbling of concern over the issue in the US, particularly the American press; but it has yet to hit home with ordinary Americans, who are still enamoured of riding their long roads with their cheap petrol and over-sized cars. Moderate Republicans, particularly on the liberal east coast, are voicing concern. Within Mr Bush's cabinet, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in his days as a corporate chief, went on record in 1998 as saying the science was uncertain but global warming was second only to nuclear holocaust as humanity's biggest threat.

Firmly on the other side of the coin, however, is Vice President Dick Cheney, the hugely influential former oil equipment firm executive who was Mr Bush's transition chief and is now described as his Prime Minister. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in his past life was a conservative Senator from Michigan, the car industry state. Interior Secretary Gail Norton, who will make key decisions about the use of American public lands for mining and drilling, is a true-blue Western conservative. Mr Bush appointed one moderate Republican, former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, a poster-girl for centrist voters, as his Environmental Protection Agency chief.

In a memo to Mr Bush that surfaced in the Washington Post newspaper Ms Whitman warned him, after meeting European environmental ministers in Italy, that global warming was an important "credibility issue" for the US . "I would strongly recommend that you continue to recognise that global warming is a real and serious issue," Ms Whitman wrote. Her position was clearly undermined by Mr Bush's change of stance; but in public this week she loyally defended her boss's apparent change of heart.


Times of London March 30, 2001 Internet:,,56-107114,00.html

International treaties are necessarily creatures of compromise. At their best, they set the seal on a hard-headed assessment of costs and benefits. Each country that signs does so because it sees co- operation to be in its national interest. Too often, they are the product of the desire to avoid a "breakdown" of a conference by reaching a deal - any deal - even if this means papering over disagreement. When that happens, the disputes have merely been deferred to a later date. So it was with the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted in 1997.

The United States was unhappy with the treaty then, has never been reconciled to its lopsided treatment of industrialised and developing countries and was never going to ratify it as it stood. Al Gore, fervent environmentalist that he is, said as much at the time. President Bush's "unequivocal" decision not to send the protocol to the Senate - where it never stood the remotest chance - has been greeted in Britain and the European Union with horror and surprise. But it is no surprise, and they know it. Like it or not - and the EU likes it so little it is foolishly hinting at damage to the entire relationship with the US - the truth is that Mr Bush, by stripping away all pretence that the US might change its mind, has cleared the air.

The problems with Kyoto go all the way back to the UN's "Earth summit" at Rio in 1992, when governments agreed that global warming was a sufficiently serious planetary risk to warrant an international convention to limit climate change. Rio divided the world into "Annexe 1" industrialised countries, which were to cut emissions, and the rest, which argued that to do so would unfairly curb their growth.

That never made sense, for two reasons. Global warming knows no frontiers; and by 2020, the increase alone in China's CO emissions could exceed the entire current OECD output. Secondly, the poor have the fewest defences against global warming; and many things they could do would actually save them money, particularly if the West transferred to them energy-saving technology. Since the industrialised world - the US in the forefront - now accounts for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, it may have seemed "fair" to exempt poor countries from setting targets. But it would have been better by far to have brought them into the bargain, for example with rich countries paying the costs of cuts in poor countries' emissions, crediting the reductions against their own total emissions which they simultaneously took steps to reduce. That would have been cheaper, and of solid environmental benefit to countries whose relatively primitive industries are heavy polluters. On climate change, what matters is what is effective .

The EU says that it stick to the Kyoto targets regardless of the US, while putting heavy pressure on Washington to change its mind. Sanctions are said to be "premature" but are not ruled out. This is not realistic and could be counter-productive. As the Canadians have dryly observed, the last European who thought he could bully the US was George III. It is also hypocritical. The US has not withdrawn from the treaty because it is not yet in force and will not be until at least 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 per cent of CO emissions, have ratified it. This neither Britain nor any other EU state has done. Nor indeed has any other country, except Romania. Nor is there agreement on how to meet the targets - largely because of German refusal to countenance compromises proposed by the US last November.

Prating by the EU - above all by Germany, whose phasing out of nuclear energy means heavier use of fossil fuels - is not in order. Where the US is at fault is in failing to present its alternatives to Kyoto. These exist. The "K-word" must not be made an obstacle to action. The White House insists that "the President does care about global warming" and wants to work out a plan involving all nations, rich and poor. The EU should take him at his word. If it does, it will find allies in America. Hysterical righteousness will find none.


Bangkok Post 30 March 2001

by Wasant Techawongtham

The next round of climate change negotiations scheduled to take place in Bonn in July is dead even before it starts-and the main reason is President George W. Bush. In a letter two weeks ago, Mr Bush told four Republican senators opposed to the climate change convention that he had no intention of regulating power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas most scientists say is a key contributor to global warming. He said the government should not impose mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions on power plants at a time when the cost of energy is soaring. Mr Bush mentioned his concern about the recent power outages in California, an unprecedented incident in the largest, most power- hungry, American state.He said there are others ways including technologies and market incentives to address global climate change.

The US president made his statement just as America is entering summer, a time when power demand for cooling surges.It is a reversal of his campaign pledge. And despite urging by his environmental chief Christine Todd Whitman that he demonstrate his commitment to cutting greenhouse gases or risk undermining the US's standing among allies around the world, he opted instead to toe the line of his business allies in the oil and coal industry.

This is his way of saying to the other negotiating partners: "You all go ahead and talk without us, boys. We'll do whatever is necessary to eat well and live well, and the heck with the rest of the world."His stance has effectively overturned the negotiating table and undone years of painstaking negotiation to reach an agreement in Kyoto in 1997. In the Kyoto Protocol, which became the basis for subsequent negotiations ending at The Hague late last year, the developed, or so-called Annex 1, countries commit themselves to cut on average 5% of carbon dioxide emissions based on the 1990 levels.

Negotiations since Kyoto have been difficult in large part because of an American insistence of including "carbon sinks" in any calculation of the emission cuts. Carbon sinks are mainly wooded or agricultural areas which are supposedly able to either store or absorb carbon dioxide. The US and most of its negotiation allies, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Norway, have vast forests and farmland and thus are in a position to benefit if carbon sinks are accepted as part of the emission calculations.

But while the issue of carbon sinks is difficult, it is surmountable given time. Now there is no possibility of an agreement. The negotiations cannot carry on without the US because it alone produces one fourth of the global greenhouse gas emissions even though it has only 5% of the world's population.

With his coup de grace to the climate change protocol, President Bush has ensured that the US has lost all credibility with its allies just as Ms Whitman had warned in her memo to him just before he sent his letter to the congressmen.The irony is that he has killed a process that his father started. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero, President Bush (the senior) signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was later ratified by the US Senate.

Efforts should still be made to persuade the Americans to change tack. But the rest of the world should be resigned to the fact that they may have to go without the US and find another avenue to try to avert the global disaster that surely will follow if nothing is done to cap greenhouse gas emissions. As for Thailand, the best course is to try to conserve as much of the natural ecosystem as possible so that when disaster does hit, we will have something to fall back on.

Wasant Techawongtham is Deputy News Editor for Environment and Urban Affairs, Bangkok Post.


30.03.2001 Internet: iness&thesubsection=


The Kyoto Protocol, the closest the international community has come to an agreement to tackle climate change, has bled to death in Washington. New Zealand has cause to mourn its passing. In a March 13 letter to four United States senators, President George W. Bush was unequivocal: "I oppose the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts 80 per cent of the world, including major population centres such as China and India, from compliance and would cause serious harm to the US economy." Global climate change issues would be addressed in the context of a national energy policy, which protected not only the environment but consumers and the economy, he said. Mr Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, reportedly told European ambassadors baldly that Kyoto was dead.

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Christie Whitman, was quoted as saying the US had "no interest in implementing that treaty" because Congress was unlikely to ratify it. She said the Administration would remain engaged in international negotiations on ways to address climate change. Mr Bush referred in his letter to a "sense of the Senate" vote in which senators voted 95-0 against the US taking any action on climate change unless developing countries also took measures to reduce their emissions.

Such comments have prompted the Europeans to reaffirm their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and call for an urgent transatlantic dialogue. The Japanese are also understood to be unimpressed.

So is New Zealand.

Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said in Parliament yesterday that New Zealand shared the grave concern and disappointment of many other nations at recent statements that might indicate the US would abandon the Kyoto Protocol. In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 34 developed countries agreed to quantified targets for reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming in the "first commitment period," 2008 to 2012.

In New Zealand's case, the target is to get its emission back to 1990 levels. The US target under Kyoto is to cut its emissions to 7 per cent below 1990 levels. Its emissions were already 10 per cent above that level in 1997 and have been rising 1.2 per cent a year. The Kyoto Protocol has some serious advantages from a New Zealand point of view. Crucially, it envisages the use a market mechanism, international trading in a sort of quota representing the right to emit a given quantity of greenhouse gas.

Trading allows the most cost-effective measures to reduce emissions, and thereby free carbon quota, to be taken regardless of which country that might be in. New Zealand starts from a relatively clean position, with few smokestack industries and electricity generation still two-thirds from hydro sources. That means that it starts from further up the cost curve in terms of the marginal cost of reducing emissions. It has more to gain from the intrinsic efficiency of a quota trading regime.

The Kyoto Protocol takes 1990 as its base year - emissions targets for each are expressed as some fraction of their 1990 levels. Since 1990 New Zealand has lost millions of methane-belching sheep, but gained millions of pine trees which lock up COinf2 (at least as long as they are growing). Both of those trends make it easier to meet its target. Mr Hodgson said yesterday that the protocol's clause 3.3 (which acknowledges the role of forests as carbon sinks) meant that New Zealand would be a net beneficiary.

The Bush Administration's backing away from Kyoto comes hard on the heels of updated work by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an attempt to distil a consensus among the world's climate scientists. It revised upward its estimated range of how much the average global surface temperature might rise over the course of this century. The high end of the range, 5 degrees C, is as much warming as has occurred since the last ice age.

President Bush's letter to the senators said that his Administration took global warming seriously. But it also refers to "incomplete state of the scientific knowledge of the causes of and solutions to global climate change." Talks on what the Kyoto Protocol's broad-brush provisions would mean in legally binding practice broke down in The Hague last November. They are due to resume in Bonn in July, two months later than intended to give the US time to complete a cabinet-level review of its climate change policy.

In recent weeks, the official line in Wellington has been that we should wait and see what the review came up with, and how it was received by the rest of the developed world in Bonn, before pronouncing the last rites over Kyoto. The Government has said it wants to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the middle of next year, 10 years after the Rio de Janeiro earth summit. Most European governments have indicated they will. Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said yesterday: "We urge the Government to reassess New Zealand's position on this, because realistically if the US is not involved, the protocol won't work."

For the protocol to come into effect and be legally binding, it has to be ratified by countries representing at least 55 per cent of 1990 COinf2 emissions. If the US, which accounted for 36 per cent of 1990 emissions, does not ratify, Canada (3.3 per cent) says it will not. In any case, the Kyoto Protocol as it stands is not in a fit state for anyone to ratify. In practice, without US participation that will not change. But the international negotiating process which gave rise to that particular text flows from the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which the US has ratified, and that would continue.

With the prospect that developing country emissions will equal or surpass developed-country emissions in the coming decade, US concerns about free-riding are understandable. But so is the attitude among developing countries that the rich nations, rich because of their past emissions, cannot now kick away the ladder they have climbed. The view that developed countries must start to get their own house in order, before demanding buy-in from developing countries, is not going to go away, however much the US might dislike it.

The challenge it now faces is: If not Kyoto, then what? If not now, when?


Time Magazine MARCH 19, 2001 VOL. 157 NO. 11 Internet:,9171,102076,00.html

How the unlikeliest companies see the reduction of CARBON EMISSIONS as a path to profit

Breathe in. Hold it. Hold it. O.K., now breathe out.

Unless you're outdoors in the midst of a cold snap, chances are you can't see your breath. And no one would ever ask you to drop a quarter in a tin box for the right to free this invisible spirit from your lungs. Yet last November, Murphy Oil Corp., based in El Dorado, Ark., voluntarily shelled out several hundred thousand dollars for the right to cough out carbon dioxide, the same stuff you exhaled three sentences ago.

The reason it did so is closely related to events that occurred that same autumn day, half a world away, at the Hague. Thousands of policymakers and scientists from all over the world had gathered, hoping to dot the i's, cross the zeds and umlaut the o's on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The protocol was devised to curb the industrial emission of six gases, CO2 among them, that are slowly--actually quickly in geological terms--turning the earth into a hothouse. But no final accord was reached.

In this context, Murphy's purchase of options on 210,000 metric tons of carbon (the equivalent of annual exhaust from approximately 27,800 cars) from a Canadian company that was itself trying to help meet a national target seems a bit odd. The market for this kind of trade hasn't been established, and there isn't even a global agreement on how carbon dioxide should be valued. Indeed there isn't even unanimity on global warming itself.

Yet the transaction is emblematic of industry on the verge of an environmental transition. Congress may have snubbed the Kyoto accord, and global bureaucrats may be stumbling over the details of a carbon-emissions trading system. But corporations, against the run of play, are beginning to confront the climate conundrum the best way they know how--as a business opportunity. John Browne, CEO of BP Amoco, and Mark Moody-Stuart, chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, have both responded to the global-warming threat and set up internal systems that exceed goals put forth in Kyoto. Shell and BP have vowed to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions 10% each--nearly twice the Kyoto target--Shell by 2002, BP by 2010. "This isn't an act of altruism," says Aidan Murphy of Shell. "It's a fundamental strategic issue for our business."

And not theirs alone. A growing number of corporations, from IBM to your neighborhood Kinko's, are reducing their greenhouse footprints. DuPont is pledging to knock its emissions 65% below 1990 levels by 2010. "There's been a shift in the center of gravity in the U.S. corporate community since Kyoto," says Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Now the view is that climate change is serious and we ought to do something about it."

There are a few ways of doing that: invest in renewable energy sources and "cap and trade" emissions. That is, set ceilings for worldwide greenhouse-gas emission and let nations either sell emission credits if they emit below their allowance or buy credits if they exceed permitted levels. The theory is that the pursuit of greenbacks will fuel greener business. "Whenever you turn a pollution cut into a financial asset," says Joseph Goffman, an attorney at Environmental Defense, "people go out and make lots of pollution cuts."

Even where green fervor is of a paler shade, corporations are viewing the potential for global regulation as a business risk they need to consider. Witness Claiborne Deming, Murphy's CEO, who doesn't see the science of global warming as solid enough yet to cry havoc. But Deming hears shareholders clamoring and the bureaucrats buzzing. Someone may ask his company to put more than a quarter in that box when it wants to exhale more than its allotted amount of CO2.

Breathe in. Hold it. You know the drill. How much CO2 did you just exhale? Tricky question. Yet that's analogous to the one businesses are struggling with on a massive scale. Until they figure it out, companies interested in trading will be on their own to determine 1) how you buy the right to emit a gas that has no standard of measurement and 2) how to do so when no nation currently assigns a CO2 property right. "It's risky as hell," says Deming.

Many groups are working to mitigate that risk. The World Resources Institute and others are road-testing a system that would make trading less risky by creating universal carbon-accounting practices. And four companies--Arthur Andersen, Credit Lyonnais, Natsource and Swiss Re--are developing an exchange where companies can trade, even in an embryonic market devoid of legislative standards. "They're trying to nail down something that will be useful under laws that are not yet defined," says Garth Edward, a broker at Natsource, an energy-trading firm.

The U.S. struggled to introduce a cap-and-trade system into the Kyoto Protocol, and achieved it by agreeing to a tough, many say impossible, target: bringing emissions 7% below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012. The irony of the current situation is that the Europeans, reluctant to accept trading at first, have become its champion; Britain next month will become the first country to embark on a national trading system.

Another practice, still hotly debated, is to assign credits for sequestering carbon in growing forests. Trees soak up limited amounts of CO2, release oxygen into the air and turn carbon into wood.

The Kyoto mechanisms will evaporate without global ratification, thus setting up an early environmental test for President Bush, who campaigned against the document. But Secretary of State Colin Powell has already heard preliminary briefings on the matter as the U.S. preps for the next round of talks, to be held in Bonn in mid-July. Bush the First helped pioneer credit trading in 1990, when he signed legislation that capped power plants' sulfur dioxide emissions--the main ingredient in acid rain--but allowed the plants to swap credits. And Houston-based Enron, an energy trader whose chairman, Ken Lay, was a prominent W. campaign adviser, stands to be a huge player in any such market. So if it's good for business, Bush the ex-businessman won't need that big a push.

With him or without him, the monetization of carbon emissions-- green for greed's sake, if nothing else--is gaining momentum. So breathe easy. For you, it's still free. But for many companies, the carbon meter will be running soon. In the very near future, pollution is going to be either a cost to them or an opportunity.


March 23, 2001 Internet:


President Bush met a barrage of criticism last week when he backed away from regulating carbon dioxide emissions, but he was only hastening the inevitable. A major shift in American policy on global warming had to come - not chiefly because of the new administration's debts to campaign donors, but because of the sheer impracticality of the policy in place when George Bush took office. In the long run, Mr. Bush may actually have improved chances for slowing manmade changes in the world's climate.

Until last week, global warming policy was synonymous with the Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrialized countries to control emissions of greenhouse gases according to strict targets and timetables. Environment ministers dominated the negotiations that led to the 1997 protocol, and they sought targets that were symbolically tough but hopelessly unrealistic.

Caught in this fervor, the United States agreed in Kyoto to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases to 7 percent below 1990 levels, on average, from 2008 to 2012. Yet on the eve of the Kyoto negotiations America's emissions were already up nearly 10 percent from 1990 levels, and they have risen about 1.2 percent a year since then. Most of the facilities that will be burning fossil fuels from 2008 to 2012 are already in place today. For that reason alone, the Kyoto Protocol was never likely to be approved and implemented by Congress. Other industrialized countries, too, have recorded rising, not falling, emissions.

Even as it became clear that most governments could not deliver on their Kyoto promises, powerful environmental groups and influential Green parties redoubled their support for the treaty rather than admit the need for adjustment. Under this pressure, every government in every industrialized nation has officially pretended the protocol was workable.

Kyoto's unachievable targets have forced governments into bizarre diplomatic contortions. Some, especially in Europe, approached the Kyoto talks and subsequent negotiations in The Hague with no serious plan for how they would comply with the targets. Others, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan, are pushing for an international emissions trading system whose main effect would be to let them buy vast quantities of bogus emission credits from Russia and Ukraine. At Kyoto, Russia and Ukraine agreed to freeze their emissions at 1990 levels, but because of the collapse of the Soviet economy, they were already emitting greenhouse gases at 40 percent below those levels. So the emissions "reductions" they have available to sell are not real.

By making it clear that the United States won't pretend to meet the Kyoto limits, the Bush administration has, for all intents and purposes, killed the Kyoto Protocol. Now it has a responsibility to build an alternative.

America is ready for a sound policy. The Kyoto Protocol's demise is erasing unrealistic ambitions on the left, and a swelling majority of centrists now recognizes the need for precaution on burning carbon-based fuels. Conservative voices that oppose any control on carbon are fading as more Americans accept the scientific consensus on global warming.

The administration and Congress could assemble a sensible package from legislation already in the works. We should sharply increase funding for research and development on affordable ways to move the economy entirely away from fossil fuels over the next several decades and raise efficiency of fossil-fuel burning in the interim. We should also create an incentive for companies to limit emissions by letting them trade carbon emission permits. Unlike the sulphur dioxide trading system created in 1990 to control acid rain, this one should let the government issue new permits, allowing more emissions, if prices for the credits ever rise above a certain level. That provision would reassure business that the cost of compliance would not skyrocket if cheaper carbon-saving technologies did not become available.

This sort of program would embody the principle around which an effective global emissions reduction regime could also be built - economic incentives that, over time, will slow the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere without the imposition of binding targets for a far-off future. The rest of the world is ready to pin the blame for the Kyoto Protocol's demise on the United States, though all nations that crafted the compact really share the blame. The sooner America takes the lead in devising effective new policies, the better it can lead the world beyond Kyoto.

David G. Victor is senior fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the forthcoming "The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming."


March 29, 2001 Internet:

By Paul Georgia, environmental policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and managing editor of the Cooler Heads newsletter.

President Bush's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Kyoto Protocol, effectively killing it, is a bold move worthy of the highest praise. President Bush, it seems, has decided to stand up to environmental extremists who have waged a relentless, decades- long war against our way of life with no regard for the truth or its effects on people. The Kyoto Protocol, which would have required the U.S. to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 to 40 percent over the next 10 years, would have been a disaster for this country and the rest of the world. Despite claims to the contrary, reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions cannot be achieved without reducing energy use. That is the inescapable fact that environmental activists refuse to acknowledge. Carbon dioxide, after all, is created when the carbon-based fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil are oxidized to release energy. Moreover, two thirds of the nation's electricity comes from burning carbon-based fuels.

We've all witnessed in recent months the effects of inadequate energy supplies. Californians have been hit hard by electricity shortages. Photographs on the Washington Post's website showed massive traffic jams induced by nonfunctioning traffic lights, Soviet-style queues outside closed banks, medical workers working by candle light, and an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman being carried to her third-floor apartment by fire fighters because her elevator was out of service. The electricity shortage is expected to get worse. The elderly and infirm will be especially vulnerable if further blackouts deprive them of air conditioning during the summer months.

There has also been a serious economic toll in California. The costs in terms of lost wages are measured in the billions of dollars. Layoffs are occurring as companies shift production away from California to places with reliable energy supplies. Intel's CEO Craig Barret has said, "As long as California is a Third-World country we won't build $2 billion manufacturing plants here." Interestingly enough, California has gone further than any other state in pushing energy efficiency and alternative energy programs favored by environmentalists. They continue to claim that energy efficiency is our greatest source of energy. Hogwash!

The problems aren't confined to California, however. One of the factors causing the current economic slowdown is soaring energy prices. Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a March 19 speech that the "nation's last three recessions were all tied to rising energy prices - and there is strong evidence that the latest crisis is already having a negative effect."

Of course, the Kyoto Protocol is supposed to protect us from the dreaded effects of global warming, such as floods, drought, hurricanes, heat waves, disease, and so on. However, none of these things has ever been connected empirically to global warming. Indeed, the best evidence suggests that the effects from the amount of warming likely to occur over the next 100 years would be trivial, possibly even beneficial.

Moreover, the Kyoto Protocol would have no significant climatic effects. Indeed, it has been estimated that it would require thirty Kyoto Protocols just to stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations. That would throw the U.S. and the rest of the world back to the Dark Ages. Still, the Bush administration has said that it will continue to pursue negotiations to address global warming. It isn't clear what it hopes to gain from further talks. If catastrophic global warming is real, then nothing short of a wholesale reversal of economic progress will do to stop it. If not, then energy-reduction policies are foolhardy.

Moreover, the Department of Energy estimates that the U.S. will need to build 65 new power plants each year for the next twenty years to meet its electricity needs. In a report released Wednesday, the independent Energy Information Administration estimated that world energy consumption will increase 59 percent by 2020. There is simply no feasible Kyoto-style agreement that can be squared with these realities.

Besides, the European Union has been totally dishonorable in the negotiations to date. In Bonn, Germany last November, the U.S. made concession after concession, but the EU refused to take yes for an answer, thereby scuttling the talks. The EU blamed U.S. negotiators and accused them of endangering the planet. In truth, the EU's green sympathies are a façade. European economies have stagnated for several years under the weight of onerous economic regulations and taxes, including heavy energy taxes. As a result, U.S. companies are out-competing their companies. Rather than deregulate, the EU has sought to level the playing field by saddling U.S. companies with similar restrictions through the Kyoto Protocol.

The EU's commissioner for the environment, Margot Wallstrom, said as much when President Bush decided to forego domestic CO2 regulations. "This is not a simple environmental issue where you can say it is an issue where the scientists are not unanimous. This is about international relations, this is about economy, about trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world. You have to understand what is at stake and that is why it is serious."

Global warming is not an urgent matter. The current energy crisis is, however. President Bush would do well to refrain from further negotiations that would only harm this country's economic future and that of the rest of the world.


Sydney Morning Herald 31 March 2001 Internet:

Its abrupt repudiation of the Kyoto agreement on global warming confirms a disturbing development in an old American tendency. Isolationism, or perhaps a dangerous and excessive self-regard, was already manifest in President Bush's moves to revive a national missile defence system at the expense of broader international arms reduction negotiations. The same tendency has produced for the United States new tensions with Russia and with China and a widening gulf between it and Europe on economic and other matters, including global environmental concerns.

The US was never leading the way in the international effort to meet the man-made threat of environmental catastrophe through global warming. But President Clinton accepted America's international responsibility to join the search for a solution. As well he might. With only 4 per cent of the world's population yet producing about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, the US can never be outside of any effective response to the threat posed by climate change.

People speaking for President Bush this week have sought to reassure the world that the US will remain "engaged" in international efforts to deal with the threat of global warming and climate change. But President Bush himself has been unconvincing. Emerging from a meeting with the visiting German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, in Washington on Thursday, he said: "We'll be working with Germany; we'll be working with our allies to reduce greenhouse gases ... But I will not accept anything that will harm our economy and hurt our workers. We have an energy shortage." That is what it comes down to. The US, one of the most inefficient and profligate users, says it has an energy shortage. Therefore, says Mr Bush, it will not continue with the process begun at Kyoto because it "makes no economic sense". This is self- interest reasserting itself to displace an earlier commitment to broader goals transcending national self-interest.The point about the agreement which 84 nations, including the US, signed in Kyoto in 1997 was that its blueprint for change clearly assumed there would be sacrifices, or at least a requirement to do things differently, to find new economic advantages, for example, in developing new clean, green technology and abandoning older, dirtier technology.

In repudiating Kyoto, President Bush objects that developing countries, including China and India, which are beginning to be significant greenhouse polluters, are excluded from the first phase of the agreement. So they are. But who believes it will become any easier to draft them into the constraints so many developed nations have agreed to, now that the US has shown how easy defiance is?

The Kyoto agreement is flawed. It was always going to require continuing effort on all sides to refine it to make it work. That task is made much harder and, more troubling, will take much longer now that the US is out of it. The rest of the world might try to press ahead, but that effort will make little sense without American participation. The US decision to opt out has not been capricious, but calculated. It represents the thinking of the great car, oil and manufacturing corporations that have been powerful supporters of President Bush's drive to the White House. Their response to the rise in oil prices and the growing concern about the environmental consequences of fossil fuels is not to look for true alternatives that are less polluting, but to press the Bush Administration to relax existing environmental laws to permit oil drilling in Alaska.

Powerful though America is, it cannot stand apart from the world's effort to deal with greenhouse emissions. Those efforts depend on a complicated series of graduated moves towards improving technology so as to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, to move to less-polluting alternatives and to reduce energy use overall. The Kyoto agreement, even though its early burdens would fall mostly on the industrialised nations - including Australia - would eventually have been all-embracing. All countries which contributed to the problem would have become part of its solution. America, by its selfish repudiation of this agreement, has reduced itself to the miserable status of being simply part - and by far the biggest part - of the problem.

Full Article No Longer Available at Source

EcoEarth.Info users agree to the site disclaimer as a condition for use.