All entries for Thursday 17 February 2005

February 17, 2005

Kyoto Protocol

Yesterday, the Kyoto Protocol which aims to halt global warming came into operation.

From BBC news

Some 141 countries who account for about 55% of greenhouse gas emissions – have ratified the treaty, which pledges to cut these emissions by 5.2% by 2012. However, the US and Australia have abstained for economic reasons, and developing countries such as China and India are outside its framework.

This article from Tech Central Station (found via Freedomís Fidelity) however takes a different view of the treaty, defending the decisions of the USA and Australia not to participate at the current time.

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

Will countries that have abstained now, really be willing to cooperate in 20 years time? That figure appears rather arbitrary. Should we fail to see any major breakthroughs in that period, one sees them claiming that yet another 20–30 year time span will prove pivotal to innovation.

Still, the vast majority of counries have agreed to the terms laid down and both domestic and international observers will hold the USA and Australia to their own emissions reduction plans even if they arenít aligned with those agreed by the majority.

Human creativity and continuous technological progress are cites as reasons why we are capable of making use of natural resources in the first place. Such traits have enabled mankind to solve pressing issues in the past and partial reliance on their ability to do so in the future is far from irresponsible.

February 2005

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