ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Climate Treaty

On Life Support?


With the formal announcement from president Bush that the US would not ratify the Kyoto Convention, the stage is set for yet another series of negotiations to arrive at yet another minimum formula. Even though the initial reaction to the US announcement has been one of shock and bravado, and of going the distance with the treaty without the US, it would be naive to think that the climate treaty would be viable without the cooperation and consensus of the world's single largest producer of greenhouse gas. The US pull-out also weakens the political leverage that other countries, especially European nations, can use to enforce regulations on industry in their countries, because this would be viewed as tantamount to tilting the playing field in favour of the giant US energy and chemical industries.

Immediately after the US announcement, there were angry reactions all round: the French president viewed US adamancy as a "serious unilateral decision" that would affect the treaty vitally; Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori was equally upset and mildly rebuked the US for "backtracking considerably" from what had been achieved with great effort; China forthrightly called the move "irresponsible" and the European Union appeared to be completely distraught, coming as it did in the middle of its focused efforts to persuade countries sitting on the fence to opt for the Protocol. These reactions in fact trace the contours of what the current US action actually represents.

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