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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Kyoto: Is Europe right to stand up to the United States?
The European Commission has insisted this week that it will continue to put pressure on the United States to implement the Kyoto treaty.

The US caused a storm of controversy by announcing that it would not implement the climate change treaty, which calls for a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Bush administration 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.

But is it worth Europe trying to change America's mind? Is Europe right to stand up to America?

For this week's Europewide debate, Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together Paul Georgia, Environment Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington and Alexander De Roo, vice president of the European Parliament's Environment Committee.

A selection of your comments will be read out on Europe Today on the BBC World Service Mondays to Thursdays at 1729 GMT.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The EU's efforts to create a world-wide carbon cartel are shamefully misguided. Government control of carbon combustion means a centrally planned economy; there is no way to have one without the other. Neither good intentions nor scientific naiveté excuse this behaviour.
Brian Mannix, USA


This discussion is quite loaded

Tim, USA
This discussion is quite loaded. Europeans are obviously rallying around the topic, and this discussion is easily turned into a gripe session against the US. Should we sign Kyoto? Of course, and most Americans agree. Will Bush sign Kyoto? Of course not.
Tim, USA

Economic sanctions against the US will never work, they are too small minded to deal with rejection - like their arguments with France over surcharging foreign films to support their own industry and culture, the US would retaliate disproportionately. Europe has to do what it can to comply with the treaty, and encourage other countries to do the same. Maybe we should fund a Radio Free USA to explain their acid rain will burn their own forests, but their pollution will poison us all.
Tim Parnell, UK


The EU has taken the lead in fighting for significant emission cuts

Paul N. Csagoly, Denmark
The US needs to change its approach that consumer demand must be met, or increased, at all costs. There comes a time when less, not more, is respectable and right. Throughout past climate change talks, the EU has taken the lead in fighting for significant emission cuts. The US has always fought for less cuts, and has constantly refused to make enough cuts "at home", opting to make them in other countries through a global trading regime. But the US is the world's greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. There is no energy crisis in the US, only too much unnecessary demand.
Paul N. Csagoly, Denmark

This debate over global warming never seems to take into account the fact that the climate of the earth since the last ice age has been getting warmer. What about all the volcanoes that spew incredible amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere in one eruption? The hysteria over global warming needs to settle to the point where we can examine it rationally and see if it is even possible for us to cause it!
Justin Hendricks, USA/ Austria

One of the most troubling aspects of the Kyoto dispute is that the US is being represented by an elected president, while the EU, in the person of the totally unelected M. Prodi, is claiming to speak for fifteen countries that have their own elected governments. Prodi should concentrate on running the EU bureaucracy, and leave the political issues like Kyoto to the elected governments of the member states.
Jon Livesey, USA


US business is unlikely to care greatly about the opinions of EU voters

Ian Jones, UK
US business is unlikely to care greatly about the opinions of EU voters and any form of trade sanctions seem impractical in the face of overwhelming reliance of EU economies of America. Perhaps it is time for a more united front between the EU and the rest of the world. At present there is little to prevent US politicians acting as they wish, even against the wishes of their own electorate who may or may not have appointed them.
Ian Jones, UK

This is exactly the reason why Europe should unite and speak with one voice. The United States is too powerful. They think they can force everyone else to suffer just because they can't deal with their own problems. Besides, if they claim to be a part of global culture, they need to learn how to play by the rules. De facto, they are acting like an offended kid in a playground.
Filip, Poland

The reality of global warming has shown its true face in recent years, from flash floods to melting ice in the Arctic. The US is only interested in solving its own short-term problems with no vision for what it will do to the environment in the future. No, Europe cannot stop global warming on its own but it can at least try and do its part so the effects are not so dramatic, for the good of all mankind, Europeans, Americans, Asians and the like.
Alex, Germany

As pointed out by Alistair Cooke here on the BBC site only Canada, Australia, and Singapore have actually ratified the treaty. If the EU really wants to show leadership they should ratify the treaty immediately both collectively and as individual countries. Until that time it is just more of the empty talk the EU is noted for. What we need is practical applications for solar power. Serious effort on this front will have more effect than a hundred treaties.
Greg, USA


Europe has full right to stand up against the American administration

Jonathan Franklin, Netherlands
The uncertainty related to global warming is such that there is no point in trying to re-establish agreements and throw out old ones. It takes too much time. Kyoto in itself took a good 4 years to finally start moving. Are we really sure we want to take this much time trying to re-instate a new agreement? The earth won't stop turning, and especially not for America to make up its mind. Europe has full right to stand up against the American administration and tell them to follow the protocol that they themselves signed.
Jonathan Franklin, Netherlands

Yes, Europe must show America that wealth and military presence around the world do not mean leadership, especially when it comes to serving GLOBAL interests (as opposed to rationalised greedy interests of an individual country). I personally believe that alternative sources of energy are the long term answer to current environmental concerns. Chernobyl should not scare us off. Look at France. That is a good model.
Yevgeni, Russia, Moscow


Europe cannot stop global warming on its own

Roman Lajciak, Slovakia
Europe cannot stop global warming on its own and hence should not keep the treaty. Ultimately, the death of the Kyoto Treaty may prove beneficial resulting in a more comprehensive and airtight approach to tackling climate change, but that will probably have to wait for a new administration in the USA.
Roman Lajciak, Slovakia

Europe has a right to stand up for what it believes in, and this certainly is no exception. On the subject of economic action to 'encourage' the US to stick with Kyoto, this could be disastrous. Firstly if you'll look at the current trade balances you'll see that when we slam our markets shut to your products (or place a reciprocal tax on them), that you will hurt as well. Secondly, it will have the effect of polarising our population to see Europe for what it is: an adversary. Our states have a level of solidarity that your member countries cannot hope to achieve. In about three and a half years maybe we'll have a president who is capable of negotiation.
Thom, USA

The US withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement is symptomatic of the belligerent attitude of the nation in its greedy quest for power, economic wealth (and domination) and cheap energy. They appear to have no concern for the wellbeing of the peoples of the rest of the world.
Bilbo Baggens, New Zealand

Fortunately, nothing will come of it because the EU member states can't even agree on the time of day ... literally!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

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06 Apr 01 | Talking Point
Kyoto: Was the US right to ditch the deal?
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