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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Kyoto: Was the US right to ditch the deal?
Governments across the world are lining up to deplore the decision by the US not to implement the Kyoto treaty on combating global warming.
The US objects to the protocol on the grounds that it does not seek to limit pollution from developing nations and puts too heavy a burden on the US economy.
The US is responsible for about 25% of emissions of carbon dioxide, and environmental groups say the move threatens "climate disaster".
Is the US administration right in demanding the inclusion of developing countries? Is the deal dead without the US? What consequences will the announcement have?
We have been debating this topic in our programme "Talking Point on Air", broadcast by the BBC World Service and webcast by News Online. Use the form at the bottom of the page to add your comments to the debate.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Derek Tipp, England
How can anyone seriously think President Bush wants to
destroy the future of his children. We have a leader that is not going to bow to
pseudo-science, on the chance that "Well what if it is real?" We have a better chance of an
asteroid smashing into the planet than we have of polluting ourselves into extinction.
I'm not remotely surprised at George Bush's action. He is unfortunately reflecting the views of a significant proportion of the US population. Certainly his views reflect that of the people of Texas who are unimaginably wasteful with energy. I mean is it really necessary to use a tumble dryer for clothes when the outside temperature is 38c? What about a washing line? And most cannot imagine life without their cars, 8-lane highways, strip malls etc, and will do everything they can in order to be able to drive a hundred yards instead of walking it. If only people were less wasteful where energy is concerned.
The irony is of course, that if global warming is allowed to continue at its present rate vast regions of the US itself will be underwater. Florida is already at risk, as are many of the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico such as south Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and South East Texas. Perhaps when it is too late people will realise that cars are really no substitute for land.
I think that American society is very over-developed. Their food is over-processed, their cities are inaccessible for pedestrians; they have precious little in the way of public transport , their cars are too big and their gas is too cheap. Leaving aside the scientific evidence of global warming, the Americans are consuming more than their fair share of the world's resources and giving us more than our fair share of their pollution
We must cut direct emissions from non-renewable sources as well as invest in the development of new technologies in order not to offload environmental problems on the future generations. America refusing to sign up will encourage environmental complacency from other nations and should to be ashamed of their stance in this.
Bush must surely realise it's his descendents too
who will be receiving the real bill for his
Why should my people (Somalians) care about a global warming when they have not enough food. Let them burn their trees, to get a coal for their cooking.
I do not know whether Mr Bush is right or wrong to ratify Kyoto agreement, but if he thinks it's not good for his people, he is right to do so.
As a UK and US citizen who lives in Bermuda, I can be embarrassed sometimes by a US world view that is professedly just " in the US interest" whether it be oil reserves or global warming. As a US tax payer, I expect US leadership to act with a global consciousness. If science documents the cause of global warming, I expect the US Government to display global leadership. No man is an island.
I have lived in both developed and developing countries. There is no question about the commitment of Americans to a cleaner environment. A lot more is done here than in any other place. Environmental studies is not an exact science. How can we be sure that the effects we're observing aren't cyclical over thousands of years? How can we trust people to predict the climate over hundreds of years when they can't even predict tomorrow's rain?
I will make a simple point. In free market capitalism, growth is infinite. The problem that arises is the fact that resources are indeed finite. We blindly pursue million dollar happiness, all the while destroying the earth's capacity to sustain life. Bush's arrogance is infuriating. We must consider whether America's exploitative and self-motivated method of acquiring wealth is a responsible approach to the future.
The singer Sting once wrote "I hope the Russians love their children too", ten years ago for the nuclear threat.
Should he sing "I hope the American love their children too" for the pollution threat?
If President Bush doesn¿t want to reduce greenhouse gases, that's fine, as long as he agrees to accept refugees from countries that flood as the ice caps melt and the water level rises.
My feeling is that the US President is turning a blind eye to the issue. He is doing his job as the "President of the United State", protecting the interests of his people. But this is at the expense of not only of the well-being of the rest of mankind, but the long term future of Americans!
Claudia, Parmelee, SD, USA
A message to Andrew, Ohio, USA who says that European water is not clean and US water is. Why in certain states in the US are pregnant women advised not to drink the water as it causes miscarriages? I have been drinking tap water in Britain all my life with no ill effects!
I think that on this issue the Bush regime seems to understand things in very narrowly defined economic terms. If Kyoto is an "economic issue" for them then we should confront them on these terms. The rest of the Kyoto signatories should proceed with its implementation then impose tariffs on US exports, as American non-compliance with this environmental treaty now constitutes unfair industrial subsidies.
I think President Bush did the right thing. There is little evidence that global warming is occurring and hardly anything to suggest it is being caused by human activity. In the short-term the US needs more energy to avoid major problems. In the long term, as Keynes pointed out, we are all dead anyway.
Kurt, St. Louis, MO, USA
The catastrophic impact of a changing climate on our future is the dominant issue of our time. We should take President Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol as a challenge, to show that other countries can reduce their pollution without depending on his country for initiative. Remember the old proverb about crises and opportunities?
Despite what the message from my compatriot in Alaska suggests, many Americans, especially those in their early thirties and younger, are very environmentally conscious, and are appalled by Bush's decision to ignore the Kyoto Treaty. However, I do not believe that American politicians will reflect Americans' opinions on environmental preservation; and I wish the world would realise that and quit hating us because of our government. Since the high costs of campaigning filter out many virtuous politicians, Americans are given a government that is mostly comprised of wealthy businessmen, who will concede almost nothing, economically.
David, Australia, Sydney
So what now? America has decided to return to isolationist politics and put their interests first. Do we still cling to the special relationship now?
It is not only the most indebted nations that need rebuke from the UN, but also that most rogue of governments, the United States. If they do not sign up to the Kyoto Treaty they will be damning the rest of the world to wallow in the effluent of their success.
There is no "Kyoto Treaty" that the U.S. obligated itself to.
Only the U.S. Senate can ratify a treaty. The Clinton Administration
agreed to comply with the Kyoto provisions knowing full well that
they would be out of office before their implementation. Clinton
knew that Kyoto had and has no chance of ever being ratified by
the U.S. Senate. The U.S. will and should do what is in its best interests.
U.S. environmental laws and its environment continue to be the strictest
and cleanest in the world. When the rest of the world catches up to where
we are today, we may be prepared to listen..
So implementing the Kyoto treaty would hurt the US economy, would it?
Perhaps the nations that have ratified the treaty should refuse to trade with the US (or any other signatory nation) until they do. I wonder which would hurt the US economy more.
This is just another example of the United States reneging on a signed treaty. Is it any wonder why so many countries distrust the US.
It is very easy for European countries to criticise the USA for its decisions regarding Kyoto. The USA and other New World countries are some of the largest producers of natural resources which demand high energy to process. European countries have higher populations and far fewer natural resources which unfairly skew the per capita emissions statistics. The media also has a habit of influencing those who are less scientifically educated into believing man's influence on global warming. The fact is, in a geologic time scale, the earth is warming at a normal rate and this has been ongoing since the last Ice Age. I think that CO2 emissions should be reduced and deforestation limited but facts surrounding Kyoto and the environment and economies should not be judged in ignorance.
The power shortages in the US are a direct result of energy being too cheap, causing people to waste it. If people in the US were more responsible with their energy usage and became more energy efficient, there would be no shortages and encouraging energy efficiency is exactly what Kyoto is all about!
As a Brit living in the US, I find it interesting that rest of the world use this issue to bash America. Please talk about how the ozone layer has the potential to repair itself, and perhaps you ought to remind the Europeans that humans have the power to evolve!
I really do despair. All this talk of the science being unfounded is irrelevant to the main problem. We are depositing massive amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere, we are killing the rain forest and we are endangering the lives of our children. It's true that asthma has increased dramatically over the last 5 -10 years as a result of increased pollutants in the air. We are damaging the environment! When people say that the Earth will adapt and survive - they may be correct. But, who's to say that it will still retain an atmosphere suited to oxygen breathing life forms.
I'd like to correct the assumption that Bush is taking actions with the support of the American public. Recent polls indicate a clear majority believe that global warming is an issue and that the US should do something about it. Having said that, I think that the Europeans and Great Britain in particular should do the whole world a favour and stop being the lapdogs of the US. I have to give credit to the French for not joining the irrelevant body that is NATO.
Kyoto is the first step (albeit a very small one) towards addressing real world problems created by industrialised nations. I read of fears of the spread of US consumerism and cultural annihilation, but yet consumption of US media, fast food and other lovely export continues unabated. Perhaps the shunning of the environment will finally be the impetus to resist the American cultural juggernaut that the Old World has needed. Vote with your pocketbooks, whether there is a compromise or not, your local economies deserve better than another burger joint.
Alex W, Oxford, UK
I have visited the USA many times and indeed spent a wonderful year living there in my college days a decade ago. However, my intention is not to return to the USA until Bush is removed from office. That could be a four year wait. So be it. May be if there was a collective boycott of US goods and services the people who voted in Bush, might see that his narrow minded, tunnel vision on the environment will actually end up killing them and their children and not just the rest of the world.
An interesting point from JB, UK, when he mentions 'This is especially the case when the average American isn't prepared to give up
the third family car.' But this isn't about easy convenience for the masses, JB, it's about the greed of fuel-producing corporations. Valid and cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels have been available for decades...the only reason we haven't seen them is because the guys selling gas don't want us to.
Bush's decision regarding the Kyoto Protocol is just another example of how corporations are running the US government. Bush is just the government representative of the oil industry, and he will never have any interest in reducing CO2 emissions. Harming the economy (the world's richest) is his excuse for inaction.
In order to refocus George's attention beyond the bottom-line, I believe international tariffs on American products would be needed, thus putting a cost on this "appearance of being engaged," which does not even exist at this point. An international fund would be needed to counteract the inevitable backlash of tariffs from the US on all other international goods (remember the American tariff on French cheeses because they placed a tariff on our genetically engineered, hormone-treated meat products?). Money is the only thing that matters to Americans, so tariffs would be needed to gain attention to this matter.
The US election was fundamentally about a choice between irresponsible business interests and more responsible social interests. The many Americans who voted for Bush are now getting what they chose - a
president who will go down in history as irresponsible.
First, I find it incredibly egotistical to assume that we little human beings can be responsible for any change in the world's temperature. 50,000 years ago my part of Ohio was under 20 feet of ice in the last ice age. It's gone! Yes, there is global warming, but every winter when it gets down to -20 F I wish I had a little more of it. This last winter was the harshest winter in 50 or so years, according to the BBC, in Siberia. I'll bet they wish they had some of that global warming too. A couple of good volcanoes can put more "green house gas" into the atmosphere in a few days than we human beings can in a decade.
The Kyoto Treaty would have financially punished the US for being economically successful, not because it was polluting the atmosphere. The anti-industrialism and anti-Americanism that I heard from people annoys me greatly. Their short-sightedness and desire to punish the US for its success never ceases to amaze me.
In the same sense, those people who think that the US is the root of all evil are short sighted. The world economy is so integrated that if the US economy was crippled by the imposition of these absurd and non-productive emission restrictions, the Great Depression would seem like a picnic.
We have a saying here, "All politics are local." And as such, when unequal restrictions are imposed on one nation, another nation will simply step forward and assume the dominant role.
I think Phil M from LA has just summed up all the problems in one paragraph. Americans are not interested in the outside worlds "meddling" as they see it, as opposed to the restrictions that the US impose on the rest of the world. Let us hope there aren't too many in the US like Phil.
How small-minded Bush and the US have become...the world's' largest producer of pollutants and it blatantly refuses to wake up and realise that preserving the dollar will destroy the environment. Economic reprisals are DEFINITELY in order. Perhaps the world could donate a new brain for Bush?
Karel Postulart, Zaandam, The Netherlands
Please don't condemn the American people for the selfishness of a person whose power has gone to his head.
According to the World Bank, the United States emits 22.9% of world total CO2, but produces 28.8% of world goods and services. So: reductions in US emissions would INCREASE world emissions, if world production of goods and services were to be maintained. Efficient reduction of CO2 would require that reductions be obtained in economies that emit CO2 less efficiently.
It is important to note that the US didn't pull out of Kyoto, George W. Bush did. Mr Bush is generally despised here in the US and is arguably not a legitimate representative of our country. While he may occupy our White House for the next four years, it would be best if the world's leaders simply ignore him until we can replace him with a legitimate leader with the intellectual capacity to understand the importance of the Kyoto agreement. In the meantime we Americans apologise for any inconvenience George may cause.
I deeply regret the decision made by President Bush on not practising the requirements stated in the Kyoto Protocol. The release of gases produced by burning fossil fuels is widely known as a cause of global warming. The USA releases about one fourth of the global total of carbon dioxide being released. Therefore, the USA's support in decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases being released is essential. President Bush claims that the Kyoto Protocol will harm the interests of the USA. However, global warming is a threat to the whole world as well as the USA. It is needed for all citizens on earth, including President Bush, to cooperate and focus their efforts on controlling global warming, otherwise the living environment of our children - either from the USA or other parts of the world - will come under threat. I firmly believe that this is not a scenario President Bush would like to see.
This is a world that is here for all life, not just humans and not just the humans that live in the US! Can't George W see that, as the most powerful man on the planet, he - along with his followers - has a right and a commitment to make this world healthier now and for the future? Our kids and future generations are not going to have as diverse and amazing a life as we have because of what we are doing today, and what has gone before. He is obviously in politics for himself and can't see past his own White House lawn. George W and the rest of the politicians MUST wake up and see they can help the earth.
Jimmy McGill, New Albany, MS, USA
I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms against President Bush's reprehensible decision to abandon the Kyoto Accords. It appears to me that President Bush is a friend of big business and no friend of the environment. I remember only too well and recently the presidential election and the question that was raised as to whether or not it was wise to have two "oil men" (Bush/Cheney) in charge of the environment! The answer was no then and remains no today. I question whether the President's environmental intellect extends past his elbow. President Bush has done immeasurable harm to the international movement to curb global warming and has "thumbed his nose" at the American people, our allies abroad, and the environment. His decision is short-sighted and completely irresponsible. It is incumbent upon the nations of the world not to let President Bush escape the responsibility of his regrettable decision on Kyoto.
Three cheers for President Bush. We reside in the United States of America, a sovereign nation. We Americans are fiercely independent and will set our own air quality standards. We do not need to have our guidelines set by other nations. The environment in the United States is perfectly fine. Rather than wagging a finger at America, let us take a look at Europe a moment. We do not see dying forests in Europe - your forests are already dead. Our water is clean, yours is not. Perhaps it is the world who needs Kyoto, and not us.
Bush is paying back his pals and paymasters in the oil industry. This is without any regard for his country or anyone else's. His outlook is "I'll be dead in 40 years, so the future can take care of itself". The E.U. must take a lead and press on regardless and hope either world pressure, or a change of president, will get the USA on side. Finally for an American (the world's no 1 polluter), to attempt to put some blame on the Third World is nothing short of blasphemy.
Elijah Shutt, Halifax, Pennsylvania, USA
Mr Bush's action is the latest in a long line of imperial American dismissals of international views. He has done me a service by convincing me that I am a EUROPEAN not a little Englander with a so-called special relationship with the US.
I would ask President Bush, "Is it that whatever does not favour America is none of her business or that the rest of the world can go to blazes?" It is good to love one's country dearly but suppose a country in the Middle East had made that remark, the US would have been there in a jiffy to enforce conformity. I know that Bush is having to contend with a downward plunging economy but at least he could have told the rest of the world that cutting down emission of CO2 will affect US economy even more negatively but that his administration is prepared to do their best. Even if Bush's best turned out to be not good enough, at least we would be happy that he was trying. But to just tell the rest of the world point blank that he would not do anything about it, is very unpolitical!!!
Guy Scott, Cary, NC, USA
Isn't it about time to reflect the emissions contribution of producing nations in the form of an eco-tax on all products, based pro-rata on their relative emissions compared to the average of all countries. It shows, legitimately that whilst one country, such as the USA, may not value environmental impact, other countries or trading blocks do? If done transparently and applied equally to both internally produced goods and imported goods, such a measure could be seen as a bold step to internalising a measure of far-away global polluters, rather than simply a new protectionist trade barrier.
It may well be that the rest of the world has concern over President Bush's decision to boycott the emissions agreement. But I wonder what they would do given the problem he has with the energy crisis in the US at this present time?
I have to agree with those governments that are protesting against Bush's decision. This man has so many ties to Big Oil and energy interests that I've taken to referring to his administration as the Oil Reich.
If everyone is so concerned about the Kyoto Treaty and its so-called benefits, why don't the "would-be" participants go ahead without US involvement? Let's see how these countries handle the sky-rocketing energy prices and the dour effect such booming costs will have on their economies. Those countries will soon be begging the US to help them financially and militarily.
Richard Caiander, Northampton, MA USA
In today's Boston Globe is an article touting the wonderful things that will come to my home town (Salem, Mass.) as a result of PG&E adding new coal burners to the Salem electric power plant. No mention of the doubling of CO2 and mercury emissions...the story reads like a little propaganda rag for this big corporation. Sadly, this is the direction the US press is headed, blinded by lies.
Geoff Trousselot , Hobart, Australia
What President Bush is doing is totally irresponsible to the whole world as well as the USA.
The USA is a country which releases a lot of greenhouse gases. Therefore, it is essential for the help from the USA to fight global warming.
Ian Ritchie, Scotland
I would like Patrick to speak about the emissions that the US is producing
compared to underdeveloped third world countries, because I suspect that
everyone is not held accountable to the same degree.
And I would like to make a statement on the comments of the person in
Denmark. Riding bicycles and walking makes sense in places like Denmark,
and San Francisco, where I live, but it would be absurd to attempt either in
a Chicago winter or a Dallas summer.
Robert Daley, Australia
However minimal the effect of human activities on
global warning may be, it does not justify the
careless burning of fuels here in the US. I see
several people here commute to their workplace in
recreation vehicles that can hold at least 10 people.
Very few people consider car pooling or other energy
efficient modes of transport. This will be the case
unless the price of gasoline goes up several fold
How can 5% of the world's population that produces 25% of the worlds carbon emissions just ignore the possibilities of a catastrophic future for our children. Quite a scary scenario is facing us.
Comments that nobody has yet ratified the agreement are irrelevant. There is no requirement for anyone to ratify it until the next summit. However, all those nations (except the USA) that signed up to the agreement at Kyoto have already done much work towards it. The UK has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5% by 2010 and is set to exceed that target. By 2012, the UK will have reduced CO2 emissions by 23% on 1990 levels. As such, by moving to a low carbon economy, the UK and other nations taking these measures, will be less affected by fluctuating oil prices and will be able to export low carbon technologies to countries such as the USA.
Jonathon Rotheram, Bolton, UK
As a UK and US citizen who lives in Bermuda, I can be embarrassed sometimes
by a US world view that is professedly just "in the US interest" whether it
be oil reserves or global warming. As a US tax payer, I expect US leadership
to act with a global consciousness. If science documents the cause of global
warming, I expect the US government to display global leadership. No man is
an island entire of itself.
President Bush is answerable to American voters and if he perceives the cost to business will upset them he is unlikely to be swayed by world opinion. World Trade Regulations may prevent governments from imposing sanctions, but pressure might be brought to bear if the environmental organisations could get an effective public campaign to "Buy American Last" going. I would be prepared to pay a slightly higher price for non American goods as part of a widespread movement and think many other people would too.
EU environmental ministers argue ecologism to be a stimulation for economism rather than the contrary. I would like to adjust that without fearing the US, but fearing FOR the US, Kyoto (the K-word "The Times") is not only of international interest, but - crucially -also in the national interest of the US itself.
President Bush's less than astute move will probably manage to gather in for the United States a disproportionate share of the opprobrium. With 25% of the total emissions the US will likely get 90% of the blame.
The resulting animus could cost the US in financial market issues, the resulting economic downturn could, ironically, be a lot more effective in keeping carbon out of the atmosphere than the likely prognosis for the Kyoto process.
A substantial minority of respondents - and most from the US - declare that "Global Warming science is bunk" and so, sadly, it may be in the best interest of concerned parties in Europe and the UK to raise money for an educational fund to teach Americans basic global warming science and to counter American ignorance. We may be rich, but we are wallowing in the deepest intellectual poverty.
Michael Schoenholtz, Connecticut, USA
G W Bush is wrong to put the economic wealth of a nation before the problems with the environment.
George Bush has attached a greater value to economics than to the environment. This is a short-term solution that will generate a long-term headache. He claims to be doing it in the name of the American people. I wander just how many Americans wish to see Mr Bush export the environmental tragedies of Texas into the rest of America. Is he attempting to create one big Texas? Let Europe show him the way.
Roger Horne, Harrow UK
Never mind George, you'll be long out of office by the time New Yorkers have to catch a yellow gondola to work. And they thought ostriches were the only creatures to stick their heads in the sand!
Julian Edmonds, Slough, England
Bush is proving that he is the best president that big business could buy.
Please know that not all
Americans support Mr. Bush or
his decisions. There is a
sizable group of Americans who
oppose his policies, and not all
are Greens or Democrats. I
would like him to sign the
treaty even though I know that
it will force us to tighten our
belts. There are economic
concerns to be sure, especially
in the coal states and Texas.
Let's not kid ourselves: global
warming has scientific backing.
Heck, some of our scientists
were behind the research that
proved it. But if we would like
a future where Alaska is not
reminiscent of the Balearics of
today, we need to act now.
Allister, Barbados, WI
This is really disappointing.
I think it is yet another indicator that the new President is not representing popular opinion but has collapsed before the country's business interests.
A fortnight ago he declined to complete a peace treaty with North Korea that his State Department had spent ages negotiating, preferring to adopt a policy of confrontation and build the 'so-called' NMD (which will transfer a fortune in public money to some selected companies).
The attitude to global warming is the same. It seems this man cannot do anything unless it involves a substantial payment to big business.
He is going to give America a terrible reputation.
Whatever your opinion on the theory of global warming, you have to give Bush credit for being consistent. Much better than the liberals out there driving 15mpg gas guzzlers with "Save the Earth" bumper stickers all over them. Kyoto is just another way of masking our universal consumerism, a form of denial.
To all you Brits who are so outraged by the fact that Bush has "vetoed" a treaty that doesn't exist ¿ how come you are not outraged at Blair because the UK has not ratified this "treaty?"
The US is as self-obsessed as ever, why should the rest of the world be surprised that Junior is opposed to the Kyoto agreement? All he cares about is making a good name for himself in improving the US economy, it doesn't matter if that after his rein of power that the world turns to chaos.
Dubya apparently doesn't care to consider the intent of the Americans who elected Al Gore in the popular vote, not to mention the millions who voted for Nader. So perhaps the only hope for concerned, intelligent Americans right now is the outrage of the rest of the world. I sincerely hope, and expect, that the rest of the world's leaders will not let him off the hook. And I would expect that in four years, Americans will not either.
The failure to lead on such a global issue is in line with the behaviour of other declining super powers through history.
Jiri Soska, Brno, Czech Republic
Bush says that respecting the Kyoto accord would hit the US economy. But, economies are just as global as pollution. Let all of us who believe that the we can't stand idly by and let the US pollute a planet that belongs to all of us, act in our own small way. There are enough of major US companies that can be hit in their pocket outside the US
I believe the world should for now follow the Kyoto accord regardless of the US position. The Bush administration should be given some time to present a viable alternative to the treaty as it pledges to, no official sanctions against the US should be taken until that time. However, America should definitely feel the discontent of the world's public and we should start boycotting US products wherever possible right away.
President Bush made the right decision to pull out of the Kyoto Treaty. Only one country on earth has ratified it, that being Romania.
The major polluters of the world, the People's Republic of China and Russia, should on their own shut down their earth-destroying industries. At the very least adopt United States/British environmental and labour standards.
Lemaigre, Brussels, Belgium
As an American living abroad more
than 40 years, and having seen in the
1950's the massive scrapping of
electrified transportation systems in
US cities at the behest of the motor
and oil industry, it is not surprising that
Americans have no choice: they
are prisoners of their cars. In
suburbia, which hardly even existed
in the late 1940's, one is committed
to the automobile just to survive.
But there is hope in the form of the
more than 30 light rail systems running
or being built. Hardly anyone outside
the USA even knows that there is
a change going on: Electric Trains are
It's always sad to see a leader who sacrifices the welfare of his nation, and his planet for the dictates of those interest groups who financed his rise to power.
Too Bad Mr Bush. I thought you were more savvy than that.
Bush is merely standing up for his country. When was the last time Tony Blair did the same?
USA, as one of the world's last superpower, should lead the way as a member of the global community. And yet, they are using their might to show that the world can go to hell, America will do what it will, even if it means not ratifying the treaty. I wonder what the Bush administration will be up to next?
Simon, Marlow, UK
As usual, the US do whatever they want.
How can they protest about the French not following the world agricultural policy (by banning their hormone beef) when they refuse to follow the Kyoto treaty?
Once again, if Europe could get its own economic
and military independence thanks to the euro
and by leaving NATO, no doubt that the US President
would take Europe's disagreement into account.
It's interesting to see how many comments from people in the USA are defending Bush, it reflects the character of the nation as selfish and self obsessed. The real heart of this issue is not what will happen to the world in 30 years' time but how green issues are affecting people now, can all these people seriously say they prefer living in a world that is choked to death with greenhouse gases, when solar and wind power would provide a cleaner and more breathable society. The motor car is a cancer that has been killing this planet for the last 50 years, and no-one cares because of the selfish nature of a society that wants everything their own way. The USA care more about having access to 24 hour fast food restaurants than they ever will about saving the planet, I can't believe people are surprised by Bush's decision.
Frankly speaking, I'm embarrassed for the human race and for being on the same planet as this callous individual. He has denied himself the right to the "sapiens" part of our name. This is a prime example of the dangers of power without control.
Choi, London, UK
Les Barker's comments sum up what many feel is the main problem with the US ... in that they can't see past their own noses and take responsibility for their actions. Humanity has raped the planet's natural resources and caused damage that will take thousands of years to repair ... all for the sake of money. When we reach breaking point you can bet the US will blame communists or 'rogue states' - it's never their fault is it?
The agenda goes much deeper than we currently see and I am certain is a classic set up of problem-reaction-solution, that will eventually show Bush in a glowing light to his own voters and to the wider - less important? - people of the world. Throughout American history and that of the great nations of history there has always been a need to create outrage so a solution can be provided and a hero created, whether that be an individual or a nation. This situation is simply another example of that and whatever the agenda, you can be sure that we (collective)will be oh so pleased with the eventual solution provided by Bush, once enough reaction has been stirred.
Human emission of so-called greenhouse gases
may be one component affecting global climate
variations, although this cause-effect relationship
has never been clearly demonstrated. Even the south
pole western ice-sheet slide (melting) has been shown
to be a cyclical effect caused by pressure of built-up
ice thickness. Keep in mind that the Earth is still bouncing
back from the previous ice age and as such is constantly
in a process of slow change. Naturally we should not waste our
valuable natural resources but as far as emissions are
concerned, I am more fearful of the toxic pollutants that we all
dump into our oceans and emit into the atmosphere. These can
cause disease and kill our planet's animal and plant life. Our
economic resources (such as we are willing to expend on
environmental issues) would probably be better focused in
Some of the comments made say there is no proof that Global Warming is caused by humans. What are the odds for this gamble? Would those who doubt the evidence be willing to go down the bookies, make a bet on it, and use their homes as capital? Because that's what the US government is doing except they are using all our homes for capital.
Since the US acts as the world's
greatest champion of free markets,
let's apply a free market solution to
the problem of green house emissions.
Allot to each human being on the
planet an equal share of allowed carbon
emissions, and let these be freely
traded. The result will be that the US
will have to buy the right to pollute
from countries with large populations,
such as India and China, which are
not using their full quota.
If they are going to pollute the planet's
air, let them pay the planet's people
David Hazel, Farereham, UK
First the Americans were anti communists, then they were (are) anti Islam and now they are becoming anti human being, by not ratifying the Kyoto treaty. By always interfering in other countries' internal affairs which suits their interest, they have a nick name of international policemen. By having such nick name they should lead the world to have a better world for not only the future generation of the world but also for their future generation.
It is saddening to realize that all the effort put into reaching the Kyoto treaty never resulted in an actual, signed agreement. Otherwise, it would be politics as usual for other countries to respond through tolls and sanctions. This treaty, a rare case of international agreement, was based on trust; trust which one government chose to break. Sad, but true.
If George W Bush and the American people don't think the Kyoto Treaty is in their interest, then they won't have to wait much longer to prove how much it is. The short term attitude of this man I hope doesn't reflect the attitude of the American people. They need to read the article written by one of their countrymen, Chief Seattle, about the damage he could see being done and the outcome. The evidence is all around us if we want to see it, or do we need proof from organisations who are sponsored by the people who have an economic interest in keeping the status quo?
Dan F, UK
For Americans, it's going to be a very long four years!
If Bush is rocking the boat already, I fear for what the Western world will have to put up with during his term of office. I so wish that Al Gore got the job, and I think many Americans feel the same way.
How many coal miners would have to lose their jobs for Bush to meet the Kyoto target? Thousands. It would be a case of what happened here in the 1980s on a far bigger scale. The reason the UK is on target to meet Kyoto is because we made the right decision to move to natural gas, but it wasn't painless and plenty of people thought it was wrong to close all the coal mines. Sure, US gas-guzzling cars don't help, but the fundamental problem is their use of coal. As I recall, the left-wingers who are now criticising Bush so vociferously didn't take too kindly to the 'decimation' of the coal industry. This is the harsh reality of a policy where realism is not as stupid as it seems.
I keep reading that Bush wouldn't enact the Kyoto treaty. The fact is that there is no treaty for him to enact. A US President cannot enforce a treaty that hasn't been ratified by the Senate. Period. His statements changed nothing. If the Senate passes the treaty then and only then do his actions on this matter have any effect.
29 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
28 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
29 Mar 01 | Americas
07 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
24 Feb 01 | Science/Nature
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