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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005, 17:05 GMT
Will Kyoto treaty make a difference?
Factory chimneys
The Kyoto Protocol, which aims to slow global warming, has come into effect seven years after being agreed.

Some 141 countries - who account for about 55% of greenhouse gas emissions - have ratified the treaty, with Russia being the last to join in November 2004.

However, the world's biggest polluter, the US, has been criticised by environmentalists for not joining after claiming it would harm their economy.

Another non-signatory is Australia, who has dismissed the treaty for being too costly.

Do you think the agreement will make a difference? Do you think it can work? Did you feel the need to protest?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Ronc, UK:
Will the Kyoto Protocol make a difference to our future generations?

Kyoto is a pipe dream pure and simple - an attempt by the left to over regulate commerce and industry (in the western world). Put it mildly I believe science has forgotten the very notion of scientific enquiry. Sound economic and environmental policy should not be predicated on voodoo science!
Fernando F, Montreal, Canada

I'm sick of hippies driving around in semi-broken down vans pumping out copious amounts of pollution, covered in sticker with witty slogans about saving the earth (yet strangely enough nothing about the factories in which they were printed) and telling me off for buying non-recycled toilet paper.
Leah, Melbourne, Australia

Until human catastrophe hits home, people will continue to frantically consume earth's resources. We have to wait for more floods, large-scale water/food contamination, droughts, massive earthquakes, torn up cities; then we'll react accordingly. Human thought generally sees preparedness as a waste of time and money.
Gene Odyssey, Germany

It is easy for Europeans to flaunt Kyoto as the a monumental achievement, but it is fatally flawed. India, and China more importantly, are called "developing economies" and therefore are subject to lax restriction under Kyoto. Many in the USA see this as a ridiculous provision, that the same country, China, stealing million of American jobs and technologies is being given another break.
Kyle Sweet, Ledyard, Connecticut, USA

Jobs and or money will be made up in areas such as eco tourism
Katherine Card, Newmarket, Canada
Ratifying this treaty will have unknown effects on society. It is for this reason that people are so scared to give it a chance. With the idea of economic loss comes widespread human fear; are we that concerned with losing a dollar? What people don't seem to realize is that jobs and or money lost will be made up in other, environmentally cleaner, areas such as eco tourism and environmental planning.
Katherine Card, Newmarket, Canada

I would like to ask a question of USA and Australia: Where will you use your strong economies when Earth will become almost impossible to sustain life? It's time to think beyond local interests and act on a mutual goal.
Khalid Khateeb, Melbourne, Australia

Even though Kyoto will not change much (especially without the US) it's better than doing nothing. Surely the economic damage caused by Kyoto will not be as much as the damage caused by constant flooding, heat waves and hurricanes caused by global warming. Besides, our oil might run out in 50 years and then it might be better to be prepared.
Guttormur, Reykjavík, Iceland

I think that climate change is like the Y2K "bug". Do nothing, and it might all crash around your ears, do something and you might never know if it was going to crash around your ears.
Mick, Crawley, UK

US factories should already be somewhat compliant with the Kyoto treaty and automobile emissions have been decreased also. I think more people buying hybrid automobiles would make the most difference.
Greg, USA

The American government is the only one taking an objective view
Peter T, Larne, NI
I heard a report the other day that if you put the predicted changes that the Kyoto treaty will bring into a climate model then after 100 years global warming will only be put back 6. That is shocking - why are we doing it?! The American government is the only one taking an objective view and not succumbing to the green lobby. All respect for them!
Peter T, Larne, NI

The Kyoto protocol won't work unless all nations agree on the agenda. The US should make use of the latest technology to reduce emission of greenhouse gases and educate the people to reduce the usage of electricity. Another alternative is to mandate all countries to plant more trees, which can help significantly in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emission. I am sure all countries can do that. It is a cheap yet non-invasive form of reducing these gases. Besides the trees that are grown can be used as part of a renewable resource for fuel and paper.
Chua Yunjia, Singapore

Kyoto alone won't make much difference to future generations, but we should see it as a first step
Les Andrews, Miri, Malaysia

Kyoto alone won't make much difference to future generations, but we should see it as a first step. The required reduction in emissions is much larger than Kyoto aims for, and will definitely "harm the economy"! Economic growth (and of course population growth) is the real problem, and global warming is only one aspect of it. We are consuming all the world's resources at an unsustainable rate, including the renewable ones such as fish, timber etc.

Economic growth really means "consume more this year than you did last year". We have to consume less, and the fewer people there are to do the consuming the better, so we have to do something about population growth too.
Les Andrews, Miri, Malaysia

I believe the Kyoto treaty will make a difference in global air and water quality long before impacting global warming. The industrialized world needs to invest in renewable energy and break its dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. Would it kill us to sit in the dark or sweat a little bit?
Jordan, Las Vegas, NV, USA

What about India and China not signing the treaty? Businesses from the US are moving to these countries because of our "tough" environmental laws and cheap labour, why doesn't anybody mention this?
Bryan, Green Village, NJ USA

Global warming is a real and natural part of the Earths natural cycle. You cant influence this. Kyoto is a futile attempt to change the unchangeable.
Dave Davies, Basingstoke Hants

No! Because it doesn't address the underlying cause: uncontrolled capital accumulation. Capital units compete and to gain a competitive advantage they invest in new capital. To stay in business the other capital units have to do the same. Hence capital accumulation and the obsession with economic growth and with growth more fossil fuel is used and hence more global warming. The current levels of economic activity cannot be sustained, let alone ever increasing levels of economic activity. Only when significant capital investment is determined co-operatively can we hope to live in an ecologically sustainable way.
Tom P, Mauritius

We still have no action plan on how we are to meet our targets
Janet, Edmonton, Canada<
My country signed Kyoto to make us look good in the eyes of the international community. We still have no action plan on how we are to meet our targets yet we have spent a few billion dollars on Kyoto bureaucracy development. Some US states have far more stringent environmental and pollution controls than we do. Who is going to enforce each nation's Kyoto obligations? Money needs to be spent on R&D and tax incentives for industry to clean up their emissions.
Janet, Edmonton, Canada

The Kyoto treaty is alarmist and misguided. The contribution to Greenhouse Effect caused by human activity is being over hyped, and is only about 0.28%, if water vapour is taken into account, and about 5.53%, if not. This crucial point makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution, or a negligible one. Water vapour constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect. Interestingly, many "facts and figures' regarding global warming completely ignore the powerful effects of water vapour in the greenhouse system, carelessly (perhaps, deliberately) overstating human impact by a factor of 20.
Steve, UK

Once again, I'm amazed at the number of climate scientists that have responded to this topic. At least I assume all those people rubbishing the science are experts who've studied and understood all the data and modelling behind the conclusions. Otherwise how could they possibly have an opinion as to the validity of those conclusions?
Frank Hollis (BSc), Harlow, UK

The best use of Kyoto is to ensure that people start to consider our delicate environment and balanced ecosystem. As we only have one planet, it is critical to err on the side of caution by adopting the precautionary principle of acting right now. However, on its own, Kyoto will not substantially cut emissions. But let us hope that it will be a start to better things to come. One of the biggest threats to our continued existence is caused by the burgeoning over-population of our planet, and the consumption levels of the US.
Pete, London UK

I am well aware that Kyoto at best will delay climate change, and it only reduces the rate of CO2 build up. It is mostly symbolic. However, this symbolic first step is in fact a very important precedent for future action. Without this step nobody will walk the road at all.
Peter Einburg, Colorado, USA

The Kyoto treaty is more of an opportunity for world communities to express a willingness to address pollution concerns at a global scale than it is a solution to solve the problems. Once again, America under Bush has shown how much world health and opinion means to them. I'm offended that some propagandist listed in these commentaries claim to speak for the majority of Americans and that the results of the recent election suggests all the opinions of the Bush administration are supported by the majority when in fact it is the opposite case.
Rich, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Even if we enforce this treaty it is only delaying the inevitable effects by a few years
Stuart Fox, Newcastle

I was watching a programme on this issue the other day, which suggested global warming is inevitable and even if we enforce this treaty it is only delaying the inevitable effects by a few years. While our economy is suffering, the American economy is growing stronger due to their non participation. Instead we surely could be concentrating on more pressing issues and pumping the billions we are going to be spending on cutting emissions by a minute percentage into these, not wasting our time and money on Kyoto.
Stuart Fox, Newcastle

I think the rest of the world should cease trading with the US until it signs the Kyoto treaty.
Joseph Peace, Manchester, England

Clearly the US is still ignoring the environment issue and will continue doing so until something drastic happens. Preventive measures are too slow.
Julius, Bahrain

Kyoto is a talking shop - an excuse to do nothing until everyone agrees. Britain's biggest renewable resource is wave power - the research was sabotaged by a pro-nuclear-with-everything group in 1982. If the British leaders stopped trying to make global names for themselves and concentrated on giving Britain a wave-generated hydro generated economy and nuclear-powered shipping, the success would inspire other countries to find and act upon their own solutions.
Clive, Cardiff, UK

I doubt very much whether Kyoto will make a great difference. Already we have seen the UK backtracking on their commitments. It all seems very similar to the way that rail network revised the train timetables so that late trains now appear to arrive on time. As for the US, I would welcome economic sanctions. It seems like the only way of getting them to realise that all nations need to do their bit, and ensuring that the US cannot benefit economically by staying outside of this agreement.

The bottom line, however, is that western peoples are incredibly selfish on the whole and governments are elected according to how they appeal to the population. People will invariably vote for parties that preserve their way of life, regardless of how selfish it may be.
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK

How can it make a difference when it ignores the main problem? Overpopulation of the planet is the root of the problem but everyone ignores it.
Chris, UK

Should we be thinking about Kyoto or the environment in the first place? Perhaps we should take a step further back and address the more fundamental issue of our efficiency of use of the planet's finite resources. It is generally true that if we demand less, we use less, we pollute less. So why is there such a world variation in engine size for a family car? Why do the majority of fruit and vegetables at the supermarket come pre-packaged? Why don't people walk anywhere anymore?
Nico, France

Man's presence on this planet will not last indefinitely
Elaine, Letchworth Garden City

We cannot possibly stop this earth warming up, but we can and should do our best to make it a decent place to live for as long as possible. Man's presence on this planet will not last indefinitely, we can be sure of that. Nature provided us with a natural filter for CO2, namely trees, and not just in the rainforests. Maybe we need to look at more ways of helping ourselves, not only the cutting of greenhouse gases and recycling. We need to help ourselves, we can't rely on the superhero, America, to come to our aid on this. There's no profit in it for them.
Elaine, Letchworth Garden City, UK

This new global warming situation is alarming everyone. The situation must be controlled without delay. The countries who are becoming cause of this must take serious responsibility without any excuses. The countries who are only suffering from this have to raise their voices to solve the problem.
Binod Pd Timsina, Kathmandu, Nepal

It is about time that something was done about global warming, there is a wealth of evidence now that seems to suggest that all is not right. I just hope it is not a case of too little too late. We must act now the current rate of CO2 emissions is not sustainable and we are not planning for the future.
Natalie McLucas, Derry, Northern Ireland

It is unreasonable to say the US is the biggest polluter when it is also the biggest producer. Secondly the planet is in a warming phase and has been since before industrialisation. Look at the map of the UK and see how many towns are now inland but used to be on the coast. Look how many are now under the sea. Climate change is not a new phenomenon and will continue to change regardless of what man does, with the exception of multiple atomic explosions. Now stopping the proliferation of that knowledge would make a difference.
John, France

The world's biggest polluter is the internal combustion engine. I won't believe the protestors are sincere until I see car use dropping dramatically in the UK.
John M Johnson, U.K.

As per usual when debates like this take off, a multitude of unproven/unsubstantiated so called facts are spouted by both sides as the complete truth. The one clear point that I don't think anyone disputes is that man is contributing to the CO2 in the atmosphere. Whilst the long term effect is what all the squabbling is about and in my view, irrelevant. Our lifestyle is affecting our atmosphere so we must make every effort to change that. A small reduction now may give us the extra time we ultimately may need for technology to help us out and for all those out there who think that this planet will always cope, bear in mind that Mars once had water and possibly a lot more.
Alan, Devon/UK

No difference whatsoever. No country is going to put this scrap of paper before its own interests. Governments and attitudes change all the time and will just ignore this treaty, Still it looks good in front of the cameras
Alan Baker, Chelmsford, Essex

This treaty is a start
David Hand, Manchester, England
In one hundred years time, when future historians are chronicling the great turning, the shift in human attitudes from destructive power based competitive individualism towards a saner and more ecologically based model of cooperation and sustainable living, they will note that Kyoto was the first, small, teetering step towards a better world for humans and all our relations. Of course, the treaty is flawed. Of course, it will prove difficult to implement. Of course, greenhouse gas emissions will not be reduced by much. But this treaty is a start and a start the symbolic value of which may yet turn out to be far more important than its practical value.
David Hand, Manchester, England

For one I agree with my country's decision to stay out of the treaty and the majority of the population also agrees with the government. The climate is an ever changing thing and not static. It has constantly changed through out time and will continue to do so regardless of this treaty. I've read reports from scientist that both support and reject the global warming theory showing that there is just as much evidence to prove the theory as there are to disprove it. What a majority of the people here believe is that this is just another way for scientist to get money for something that we can not do anything about. There is something people need to realise that Global warming is a theory not a fact. Do you want to spend millions and millions of dollars on a theory? I for one don't as do many others.
Dewayne, Ider, AL, USA

I watched with interest the discussion on the world news about the Kyoto Protocol. Much was made of the use of fuel cells. Whilst these devices do reduce the pollution in towns, the usefulness to the green house emissions depends on how the hydrogen was produced. Most methods would involve the production of carbon dioxide somewhere in the process, hardly helping the green house gas pollution on a global scale. Why did no one point out that this was an enormous red herring being brought up by the Americans? They are developing the cells to clean the city air, not to clean the air globally.
William Hamilton, Thann, France

No climate treaty can be effective if you exclude half the world's population. As for you who blame Bush, Kyoto died in the US Senate during the Clinton administration. The difference between Clinton's approach and Bush is that Clinton was never honest with Europe as to Kyoto's chance of being adopted by the US. It had no chance whatever.
Scott, Manchester USA

Do you think the agreement will make a difference? No - because too much big business doesn't care. Do you think it can work? Many things can work - it only needs the political will to get going with the right approach. Did you feel the need to protest? The only effective way to protest is to stop using oil and gasoline.
Cyrus H Milton, Brisbane Australia

That global warming is a problem is not in doubt. That any solution must result in cutting emissions is also not in doubt. Sadly, many of the advocates of cutting emissions are pipe dreamers who reject the most workable alternative to fossil fuels: nuclear energy. Until we are ready to embrace nuclear energy, cutting emissions will remain a dream.
Peter Wanyonyi, Nairobi, Kenya

To Peter Wanyonyi: Your solution will only work for allies of the United States. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea have all attempted to develop nuclear power, only to have their nations crippled by economic sanctions or worse.
Richard, Zurich, Switzerland

China is now the world's largest consumer. Since they have not signed Kyoto it is moot. India is also coming on strong with coal fired power plants in the works. The treaty is already outdated. When the US tried to make this exact point we were blasphemed. Wake up, world. You are behind the curve.
Sharon, USA

Global Warming has become a religion that the faithful have vowed to follow no matter what the facts may show
Keith Chandler, Huntington Beach, California
The UN finally got what it wanted the Kyoto Climate Change treaty. Global warming has become a new religion. No one is supposed to question whether it is a fact. Never mind that there is no consensual scientific evidence to support claims of man-made global warming. Global Warming has become a religion that the faithful have vowed to follow no matter what the facts may show. Man made Global Warming is a theory, nothing more, and large numbers of scientists around the world are beginning to question its validity. Global Warming is nothing more than a euphemism for redistribution of wealth from the rich, development nations to jealous dictatorships who refuse to allow their citizens the right to gain their own wealth through free markets. In my view, there is there is no man-made global warming. There's only the scam of an empty global religion designed to condemn human progress and sucker the feeble minded into worldwide human misery.
Keith Chandler, Huntington Beach, California

I think the Kyoto Protocol is a step in the right direction. However, it is only the first step on a long journey to environmental reclamation. It worries me that my own government refuses to take this first step. Not content with being the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, it appears we must be the most indifferent as well.
Alex Menzies, Salt Lake City, USA

We could significantly reduce our CO2 emissions problems by switching energy production to nuclear. People wouldn't need to change their lifestyle: vehicles could run on hydrogen (made using electricity generated by nuclear power), and home and industrial energy consumption would not need to be reduced. This is much better than covering our beautiful country with wind farms.
Robert MacGregor, Edinburgh, Scotland

It's not that America doesn't believe there is a global warming problem, it's that we disagree on how to solve it. Kyoto guarantees nothing at all except economic loss. Before we start putting our people out of work we should be able to give them a reason that is more certain.
Eric, Tucson, Arizona

We all have to realize that this is only the first of many, many steps. No one likes change, especially when they don't truly understand what is going on. But how can wanting to protect the environment possibly be a bad thing. Economies historically improve after such changes.
Steve Coleman, Kitchener, Canada

I think some of the comments here attacking Bush personally for rejecting the Kyoto treaty are misguided. Whatever one thinks of Bush and Kyoto, it is not the US President that is responsible for ratifying treaties; it is the US Senate, and the Senate rejected the treaty unanimously, in 1997, 3 years before Bush was elected. Bush has little to no control over whether the US ratifies the treaty, all he can do is try to persuade the Senate to do so, and he has decided, quite correctly in my opinion, that trying to do so in the face of such strong opposition, would be a waste of time.
Brett Olsen, Madison, WI

We need to take action to ensure the Earth is habitable by humanity whatever the cost
Alastair, UK
Some people are arguing against Kyoto because the Earth has natural climate alterations and how can we tell if humanity or nature is disturbing the climate. Well who cares? We need to take action to ensure the Earth is habitable by humanity whatever the cost and whoever is responsible. Life on Earth will always continue and adapt; it's just human beings may not be a part of it by then. Be selfish, save the humans!
Alastair, UK

Before so blindingly criticising the USA, people should remember that they have so far been world leaders in legislation governing emissions, and currently have some of the most stringent laws.
Emily, London

I think the Kyoto agreement is a step in the right direction. The fact that so many have signed their intent to make a change is such a positive move. Disappointment that once again the US has shown it's arrogance by saying it will do it by itself. When we know it's really looking after the interest of it's own industries at the expense of the rest of the world.
Chris D, USA

The whole idea of global warming is built on some very unproven science
John Gallagher, London, England
What a load of sanctimonious twaddle. Kyoto will do nothing, nor will the tree-huggers. 30 years ago, at college I remember being warned about the approaching ice age, now it's global warming. The Earth is technically still in an ice age and temperatures have been much higher than in the past. The whole idea of global warming is built on some very unproven science and will probably be replaced with some other hippy ideal when everyone has got bored with it all. I'm not saying don't look after the planet and its resources, far from it, but I am saying don't dress it all up in doom and disaster when there is nothing to back it up. Get real and the world might listen.
John Gallagher, London, England

John Gallagher of London is right, we were being frightened by the 'Imminent Ice Age' and 'No Fossil Fuels' when I was at College in the 70's - in fact I wrote one of my Degree Essays on 'Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel' in 1974 as it was a topical subject. We now have more proven reserves of Oil than we did then, and are now we are told that it is 'Global Warming' not an Ice Age that we need to fear. The Sceptical Environmentalist needs to be on everybody's reading list, it exposes a large number of the 'Green facts' as being nothing of the sort.
John, England

The Kyoto treaty can make a difference if we stick to it. The major point, however, is the recognition of an almost global consensus that something serious needs to be done. Whilst key changes must be made at a governmental level, it is up to us all as individuals to do our bit as well.
Craig, Newcastle

Measuring pollution output per capita is nonsense. The US produces 25% of the world's greenhouse gases because it produces 25% of the world's economic output. I'd like to see a listing of how much pollution countries produce relative to their economic output and then see how the US stacks up as "the world's largest polluter".
Gerald Joyce, Chicago, IL, US

Every journey begins with a single step
Graham, UK
Of course it will make a difference. It won't be enough and far more needs to be done, such as getting the US to admit that there is a problem or talking to China, India and Brazil about what they can do to help, but even this small gesture is welcome. Every journey begins with a single step.
Graham, UK

Kyoto simply has to make a difference. And it will at a national level. But it can't be the only initiative; each one of us has to take in charge our own energy requirements and begin now to change our own habits. We should also encourage those who are seeking better application of renewable energy sources. They seem to offer us a viable way to meet our Kyoto requirements. Buy we should aim to exceed Kyoto, not merely meet it.
Joseph Spear, Montpellier, France

Until the public and their representative governments confront the corporate elite, the world can sign all the papers it wants to, but nothing will change until there is money to be made by the global corporations, or we die from as a result of our own ignorance and greed.
Paul, Gainesville, FL, USA

Whether or not this treaty works, it is a step in the right direction. I know some scientists have stated that the Earth has naturally changed its temperature, even before man came along, but even so, if we have technologies that can lessen our impact on the environment, then we should be duty bound to use it.
Stuart, UK

So long as the world is run to make a profit, there is little or no hope for Kyoto
Nick Andrews, London, UK
So long as the world is run to make a profit, there is little or no hope for Kyoto. Possessing a dollar, a pound or a euro will not produce clean air for our children and our children's children to breath. Neither will they protect the world's resources or secure the environment. In fact, quite the contrary. As long as we plunder our planet to make money then initiatives such as Kyoto, however well intentioned, are doomed to failure.
Nick Andrews, London, UK

I think the Kyoto Protocol will make a difference but not straight away. It is essential that the US joins for this protocol to work effectively. I think that these ridiculous 4x4's and SUV's are a major problem. There is no need for such big vehicles which are major pollutants. All car manufacturers are at it, Audi is even going to release a 4x4. These enormous cars need to be banned. The Range Rover is designed for farmers, not to take your kids to school!!!
Rajiv, Coventry, England

The world's ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is due to its plant life. We can't completely stop the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere because we produce it naturally. So if we continue to destroy the rainforests while increasing our population, carbon dioxide is going to continue to build in the atmosphere at an increasing rate. Kyoto is a half-measure, looking at only one side of the equation. Today does not mark the day we turn it around. It marks the day when Europeans who blame the US for all global warming for not signing Kyoto become slightly less hypocritical, if still misinformed.
Jim , USA

The faithful implementation of the Kyoto treaty by all major emission countries is in the long-term interest of all humanity. Preventing further environment pollution will be better than curing its aftermath. The cost of prevention will be far less than that of curing it. The initial cost consideration alone shouldn't over-ride human existentiality.
Ndidi Asien, Banjul, The Gambia

It seems to me that instead of trying to go back to pre-1990 levels we should move forward and spend our time and resources on developing cleaner, renewable and sustainable energy sources. If we do this then the current problem will be solved.
Todd, Virginia, USA

By taking the attitude that it will cost too much, our so-called leaders are effectively signing the death warrant for your children's lives
John Ritchie, Edinburgh, UK
How can you measure if something is too costly or not for the sake of the planets survival? I genuinely hope this makes a difference. America and Australia need to look at the bigger picture. It may cost millions, maybe billions, of dollars to bring the change about, but today we are fighting a war very different from the wars of years gone by. Our fathers and mothers sacrificed their lives, careers and much money to rid the world of dictators like Hitler and to create freedom among men, we now need to fight for our children's future, their lives and their world. By taking the attitude that it will cost too much, our so-called leaders are effectively signing the death warrant for your children's lives and taking away any chance of a safe, secure, progressive and advanced future.
John Ritchie, Edinburgh, UK

The US are the most powerful nation in the world. They have 4% of the world's population but produce nearly 25% of the pollution. It is up to the rest of the world to impose sanctions and force them to participate. Their economy will indeed be hurt, but only enough to bring them down to a level where they are on a more equal footing with other leading countries. They will have less money to spend on their enormous military budget and will no longer be in a position to bully the rest of the world into submission.
Nigel, Fujsawa, Japan

To deny that we as a species have not had an effect on our environment is both stupid and naive. People moan about the increased rainfall and flooding, yet dismiss Kyoto and fail to take the steps required to stop it. We never had this much bad weather 10 years ago. It is a very necessary step in the right direction.
James, Liverpool, England

From a scientific perspective, any effects that the Kyoto Protocol has will be insignificant in scale, regardless of whether the US, Australia and others eventually come on board, and certainly won't justify the expense required in meeting the requirements. Assuming that the predictions concerning the anthropogenic component of climate change are essentially correct (and in my opinion the media and political acceptance of this in Europe is far in advance of the scientific evidence), to have any meaningful effects, the targets would have to be far tougher and the protocols would also have to apply to the developing nations, especially China and India.
Dr Ian Blanchard, St Albans, UK

In reply to Dr. Ian Blanchard. I have to disagree with you wholeheartedly. From a scientific perspective, given that we know so little about the rate of climate change, not to mention other potentially hazardous effects of increased CO2 (oceanic acidity, changes in the carbon cycle), it would be absolutely prudent to take even the smallest steps towards limiting anthropogenic climate change. This is necessary, not only for the (as you suggest) 'insignificant' effects this may have, but also for creating a platform for awareness and development of sustainable and environmentally sound technologies moving forward. The economical consequences are what I would infer as insignificant!
Reagan Thompson BSc, New Zealand

It's a step in the right direction, but many people are commenting that it won't make a difference to the climate change. Maybe it will, maybe it won't... but if we stick to our own policies and simply have better recycling and more fuel efficient transport, we will make a massive dent in our country's resource usage.
Sharon, UK

We have the technology to run vehicles on LPG, with little or no pollutants - why aren't these governments insisting that all new vehicles be built to use it?
James, UK

Why not have more challenges with huge pay-offs for inventors to come up with environmentally friendly transportation and manufacturing? Instead of going into orbit, maybe we can save ourselves from ourselves! This treaty is just more talk and no action.
James, USA

When solar panels are mandatory on new houses, only then will I believe it is being taken seriously!
Simon Mallett, UK, Maidstone

The UN Panel on Climate Change, made up of over 2,000 scientists from around the world, say we have to cut emissions between 60-90% for us to stand a chance of survival. The Kyoto Treaty is a drop in the ocean whilst facing catastrophe. There are a few oil industry-funded scientists who constantly deny climate change, plus people who don't want to face up to their children's lack of future.
Adam, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Most of the industrial countries feel that they will lose huge amounts of money if they put it into effect
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt
Kyoto will make only little difference simply because so many industrial countries will not abide by its articles. Yes, it can work but also on a very small scale. I think that the most insurmountable obstacle in the way of the Kyoto application is that most of the industrial countries feel that they will lose huge amounts of money if they put it into effect.
Nabil Abdel Ahad Abdel Baky, Cairo, Egypt

Increased global temperature could lead to an increase in lifespan, general health, height and wealth in the UK. We should not be worried by a slight rise in global temperatures, but worry about the quality of our soil, our fields, our water and our fish stocks.
Geoffrey Roberts, Colchester, UK

A waste of time. The only thing that will make any difference is if we find a responsible way to control the population
Chris, UK

Its main outcome will be that it will focus people's attention to the issue
Simon P, Crawley, UK
It is certainly an important step forward. Whether it will directly work is not an issue as it has limited impact on total emissions. Its main outcome will be that it will focus people's attention to the issue and potential future debate to include the USA and Australia. Perhaps it will focus on scepticism to global climate change, which is an important issue as it highlights the relatively common belief that emissions of billions of tonnes of CO2 and other 'greenhouse' gases does not have any deleterious affects. Time is not on our side.
Simon P, Crawley, UK

The Kyoto treaty is not worth the paper it is written on. Another empty gesture by nations who will do precious little about reducing emissions What reductions they do make by efficient engineering on polluting agents such as petrol/diesel engine will be negated by the extra number of vehicles that will undoubtedly take to the road! As it has been proven that gases sheep and cattle also add to the greenhouse effect are nations going to cull all there livestock?
Alan Glenister, Bushey UK

At least the Americans are honest (shock, horror), most nations that will sign the document will not uphold and enforce it as they encounter the same problems that stops the US signing it.

No, it won't. It will reduce temperature a fraction of a degree, or put another way, atmospheric CO2 will double in 106 years, instead of 100 years. Let's spend the money where it would actually do some good; toxic pollution, poverty, clean water, etc.
Les Johnson, Lagos, Nigeria

Scientific opinion is generally agreed that the change in CO2 concentration and temperature is unprecedented in geological terms. Yes, the climate is always changing, but not at this rate. Whether you are convinced by the science or not, is there any harm in trying to arrest these trends? Doing things efficiently is good for the economy - saving energy and materials.
Caroline, Edinburgh, Scotland

Any reduction in pollution has to be a good thing
Steve Massey, Cheltenham, UK
I doubt it will make much of a difference, but any reduction in pollution has to be a good thing. It's worthy for the fact it's easy to see which countries around the world are looking towards the future of the planet, and those which are looking after themselves.
Steve Massey, Cheltenham, UK

Kyoto is a token gesture by international governments to appear 'green' to voters. Don't be taken in. If you really care about the environment, stop buying things that come in plastic packaging and stop using your car.
Joe, London

Joe, London: You have one of the best public transport systems in the UK in London, I know, I used to live there. The rest of us in the regions often have no alternative to the motor car. As for Kyoto, not a jot of difference until all nations sign up to it, including developing ones.
AJ, Wakefield, UK

The well known saying "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" springs to mind. So many people expect their government to sort out the problems, or just want to blame Bush for all the world's pollution. But we all need to take a long hard look at our use of resources and how we can individually make a difference. Change starts with us.
Tony, UK

Kyoto is a waste of time without all the nations signing up to it. You simply cannot have the world's greatest polluters outside of this agreement, otherwise it is tokenism. Oil consumption must be reduced. Alternative fuels must be used, but until the oil companies release their stranglehold on governments, this is simply not going to happen. What is more, the purchasing of allowances from other countries trying to do their bit is simply not acceptable. We all get on board together and attempt to clean up the planet or simply wallow in its waste, trash and polluted mess.
Chris Kisch, Milton Keynes, UK

Nobody knows what the true effect of global warming will be, but I suspect Kyoto will only delay the inevitable.
Neil, Wrexham

I think the Kyoto protocol is a small step which can be made, however there is still a long way to go. People who think this is a sneaky way to increase taxes must have blinkers on - I am only twenty three and I have seen the climate change since I was a little child. Its time to wake up and change things
Lesley, Scotland

We need to confront our environmental problems upfront rather than drag our feet
Rakesh Sharma, US
It is too premature to say whether it will make a difference or not. What makes a difference is that the initiative is new, global and environment friendly. The naysayers can say whatever they want, but we need to confront our environmental problems upfront rather than drag our feet because it does not suit everyone. We owe it to our children.
Rakesh Sharma, US

What is the point of Kyoto , if a single medium-sized volcano can produce as much CO2 as all cars in the world over the next 10 years. It would be wiser to invest in new technologies like hydrogen or pebble bed reactors than sending the global economy into chaos. Besides the climate is supposed to change.
John T, US/UK

This is a step in the right direction. However, I feel that the seriousness of the situation is still not fully appreciated. I fear that we are all so concerned with economic growth that it will not be adhered to. The world is simply sleepwalking to disaster.
Brian Bailey, Winterthur, Switzerland

It won't make a jot of difference. The lumbering ship can't be turned without counter measures, rather than less of the same. The ice is melting and it'll take another 100 years to reverse that. Beach huts and deckchairs at Docklands then, and goodbye Essex.
David Ball, Wokingham

Kyoto is based on junk science, green mythology and downright lies
Andrew H, Cheshire, England
It will make a difference to the amount of energy wasted and the amount of CO2, but it won't have any effect on our climate. Our planet and its climate is not a fixed, unchanging environment - it has undergone massive cyclic changes over millions of years, and there's nothing we can do to influence it. Kyoto is based on junk science, green mythology and downright lies, and it will gobble up trillions of dollars that could be far better used.
Andrew H, Cheshire, England

Kyoto is bad public policy based on bad science. Governments are arrogantly ramming through this protocol for the sake of short term headlines while the science behind climate change is still open to debate. The US is not on board, and worst of all, the ultimate effects on consumers and taxpayers are still unknown. Kyoto is too expensive and wrongly excludes developing nations.
Geoff, Portsmouth

I hope so, but I doubt it. Governments around the world like to talk up how committed they are to reducing greenhouses gasses, but will no doubt, just earn tax revenue by hiking up prices. If they offered companies tax incentives to become cleaner it would, I'm sure, have a much greater effect and changes would start instantly when it is cheaper to become clean than to stay dirty.
Gavin, London

The US claims Kyoto will damage its economy. Not half as much as the weather can. Have they already forgotten last year's four Florida hurricanes in one season? What does this spring's tornado season have in store for the Mid-West states? At least the storm chasing industry can look forward to a booming business in the future.
John Stephenson, Manchester, UK

Considering that global temperature changes have been shown to be cyclic in nature, no I don't think they will have any effect at all.
Rick, Cardiff

I don't think it will make a difference. The US and Australia haven't joined. Countries emissions of greenhouse gasses are higher then ever, and the 5.2% target is too small to make any real difference. Developing countries aren't decreasing their emissions either. Having said that, I suppose the protocol is better then nothing.
Marc, London

It will not make me more energy efficient, as I am still not convinced that there is even an issue. It is just a sneaky way to increase taxes. Promise not to increase taxes, and I will play.
Alfie Noakes, North of England, UK

I do think that the Kyoto Protocol will have far-reaching effects, but I am disturbed by the US government's insistence that converting to cleaner energy sources will cost jobs. Given the current problems we have with mercury-contaminated freshwater fish, high rates of illness related to air pollution, and the spectre of broad climate change destroying wildlife and botanical species (not to mention damaging the agriculture industry of the "bread basket" states by rendering them deserts), I fail to see how continuing current practice is such a great investment.
Allie, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

I'm certain this project will be remembered as a huge folly
Andrew Paterson, London, UK
Vineyards covered Middle Ages Kent, Greenland was once indeed green. The world's climate is never static and this is simply ignored by Kyoto and its advocates. Even under its own flawed science, the Kyoto accord will have negligible impact on a global warming which can't be accurately predicted in the first place. I'm certain this project will be remembered as a huge folly.
Andrew Paterson, London, UK

I sincerely hope that Kyoto achieves its objectives and I think it just shows how narrow minded and money hungry George Bush is that the US are not members. Even if the objectives are not completely met, any willingness to make improvements should be applauded.
Lianne, Manchester

It needs an umbrella organisation to enforce it. This could be done through the World Trade Organisation who police international trade. The US refuse to sign up to Kyoto because they think it will harm their international competitiveness. Hence, the WTO would impose fines on the US, or better still, other countries would have the right to impose taxes on US imports. Then let's see how long the US want to stay outside of Kyoto!
Jonathan, London

It is time that the rest of the world came out from under the shadow of US ignorance. Though it will be difficult with the US being such a large economy, trade sanctions should be levied on US exports until they accept their environmental responsibilities.
Simon Flinn, Edinburgh

Unfortunately signing the agreement is an act of tokenism by too many governments
Jon Dalladay, London, UK
Unfortunately signing the agreement is an act of tokenism by too many governments - only when all governments put ecological issues at the very centre of policy will we begin to drag ourselves back up the slippery slope we have been skating down for too many years.
Jon Dalladay, London, UK

Every little helps as they say, but until the US signs up to Kyoto, there will not be a massive change. Come on America, take some responsibility!
Amy Dutton, Leeds

So we have 141 countries aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions - and then we have the US who will continue to pump out emissions to their little hearts content. Tells me more than I want to know about the United States' attitude towards its fellow countries.
Lesley, Truro, England

Maybe someone could erect a big plastic bubble over the White House to contain all America's emissions
Tom, Norwich, UK
As Tony Blair says, it is a first step. George Bush's short-sightedness and stubbornness is a major obstacle, but not one we can do anything about. Trade restrictions on countries who do not meet their reduction aims, fine. How about restrictions on developed countries who do not agree to the protocol at all? Anyone fancy cutting off ties with the US? They seem to survive just fine on the poverty of the developing world anyway... Maybe someone could erect a big plastic bubble over the White House to contain all America's emissions, I wonder how soon Bush would sign the protocol after that.
Tom, Norwich, UK

It will not make any difference. As long as there is oil and gas and no need to save energy, or we will have much higher taxes for the pollution of the air, nothing will change. As usual there will be a change in thinking and acting if it's too late, and not a minute earlier.
Jörg, Dresden, Germany

It is important to understand that if global warming is already happening, with current atmosphere CO2 content, and that at present the rate of CO2 emissions is increasing, then we are effectively doomed to find out what global warming will bring. Playing around with minor reduction pledges from only some countries, which won't be honoured anyway, is simply useless. We would better spend our time trying to predict the possible consequences of the inevitable warming and attempting to find a way of living with them.
Christian Tiburtius, Reading, UK

The real face of the American administration is what we see today. Forget about God's blessings, democracy, freedom, etc for a moment, and the purely interest driven, naked administration surfaces up.
Tibor, Neuss, Germany

I would like to think it'll make a difference but I don't think it will in the long run. I believe that the rest of the world's efforts will be wasted due to the USA already being the biggest polluter. Future statistics will just make them look worse as the rest of the world reduces their emissions. Sure they are happy to invade other countries to 'thwart' terrorism, but reducing there own carbon emissions for the sake of the entire planet seems beyond them for some reason.
Aaron, Sheffield

It is a start, but unless the world's biggest polluter, namely the US, pulls its head out of the sand and signs up to the agreement, then it is going to be hard-going.
Morris Hughes, Monmouth, UK

How do we know that so-called "global warming" isn't just the manifestation of normal climate change?
Martin Smith, London, England
Anything that cleans up the atmosphere must be of benefit, but how do we know that so-called "global warming" isn't just the manifestation of normal climate change?
Martin Smith, London, England

The amount of foot dragging there has been over implementing the protocol does not bode well for nations' willingness to do the hard work of actually reducing emissions. I will be surprised if we actually begin to see an overall slowdown of emissions over the timescale of the protocol, let alone an actual reduction. This really is one of those situations where nothing will get done until nature itself forces us to take action (and even then, the huge industrial lobby in the United States will do its best to argue that it isn't a manmade problem).
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

I think that the agreement could make a difference, but for it to really work, America has got to come on board, and cut down on its oil guzzling.
Neil, London

"How I'd change the world..."
15 Feb 05 |  Science/Nature


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