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The BBC's Janet Barrie
"European leaders have already made their feelings known to President Bush"
 real 56k

Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Europe backs Kyoto accord
Cooling towers BBC
Bush says cutting emissions is not in the US interest
European Union environment ministers have said they will continue to back the Kyoto accord on climate change, even without the support of the United States.


No individual country has the right to declare that a multilateral accord is dead

Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson
They were meeting in Sweden, to respond to President Bush's announcement last week that he plans to abandon the accord.

A high-level EU delegation is to go to Washington to try to persuade the Bush administration to reconsider its decision.

The Kyoto accord was designed to limit the gas emissions blamed by some scientists for global warming, but Mr Bush says such restrictions will harm the US economy.

US criticised

At their high-level meeting in the northern Swedish town of Kiruna, European environment ministers took stock of the situation and condemned the US move.

Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson, right, with Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer AP
EU ministers are meeting to take stock
Kyoto "is still alive, and no individual country has the right to declare that a multilateral accord is dead", Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson said.

The widespread international condemnation of President Bush's decision has left the US looking increasingly isolated.

An inaugural meeting of the 34 environment ministers of the Americas ended in Montreal on Friday with the US and Canada alone refusing to sign a document saying that advancing the Kyoto accord was foremost in their priorities for action.

Oil companies

But the strongest criticism has come from the EU.

European Commission President Romano Prodi said it was hard to understand how the US could abandon efforts to tackle one of the biggest challenges of global sustainability.

Arctic ice field BBC
Global warming is being blamed by some for climatic changes in the Arctic
"If one wants to be a world leader, one must know how to look after the entire Earth and not only American industry," he told Italy's La Republicca newspaper.

French President Jacques Chirac called the US turnabout "a worrying and unacceptable challenge to Kyoto".

Green Party members of the European Parliament have called for a boycott of American oil companies, but the commission has indicated that it does not want to alienate Mr Bush.

However, the fallout from the row could have an impact on delicate trade relations between the US and the EU.

Target costs

The Swedish city of Kiruna, far north of the Arctic Circle, was chosen for this weekend's routine meeting of the EU's environment ministers because it is a centre for research into global warming.

Kyoto accord
Targets 'carbon-rich' gases

Commits 38 industrialised countries to emissions cut of 5.2% by 2010

Developing nations excluded from emission quotas
The ministers had intended to discuss bio-diversity and sustainable development, but instead they have what they see as a more urgent threat to the environment on their hands.

Talks in The Hague last November broke up amid divisions within the EU, and accusations that the US was exploiting loopholes to ease the cost of meeting the treaty's targets.

Kyoto, agreed in Japan in 1997, targets carbon-rich gases - mainly the by-product of burning oil, gas and coal - that some scientists believe could catastrophically change weather patterns.

It commits 38 industrialised countries to an overall cut of 5.2% of these "greenhouse gases" by 2010, compared with their 1990 levels.

Developing nations are included in the treaty, but are excluded from emission quotas on economic grounds. This failure to demand emission quotas from developing nations is one of the main objections raised by the Bush administration to the Kyoto accord.

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Is the US right to ditch the deal?Global warming
Is the US right to ditch the Kyoto deal?
See also:

30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
29 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
US facing climate isolation
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Anger as US abandons Kyoto
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
US blow to Kyoto hopes
22 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Global warming 'not clear cut'
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