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The United States and the Kyoto Protocol

United States suggest an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol

Today, the United States accounts for 1/4 of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Despite voluntary climate change policies emissions are still growing 1,5% each year. Nevertheless, in 2001 the US together with some other countries decided to retreat from the Kyoto Protocol for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The reason that was given for this retreat was that developing countries were not involved in the Kyoto Protocol. It is stated that greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries will increase in the coming decades. According to some critics more than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions will come from developing countries by 2025.

The US has now made a pact with several Asian countries called the Asian Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Participants want to implement an alternative strategy to tackle climate change. This is a technological operation to make fossil fuels cleaner by introducing clean coal and nuclear power. It also promotes the application and introduction of carbon sinks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike Kyoto, it does not focus on emission reduction in a certain target year. The alternative to Kyoto now involves the US, Australia, China, Japan, India and South-Korea.

This new US strategy is in line with its earlier comments on the Kyoto Protocol, namely that combating global warming should be achieved by voluntary effort rather than by mandatory emission reductions. The US state that this new agreement does not undermine the Kyoto Protocol and that the participating countries have either signed Kyoto or where not even involved in Kyoto in the first place. The US government notes that investing in cleaner technologies not only meets national emissions reductions. It also reduces poverty and promotes economic development.

This new alternative to Kyoto is widely debated because many countries still feel American president George W. Bush (picture) should ratify the Kyoto Protocol. They are of the opinion nothing can be achieved where climate change is concerned, without actual greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Related pages

Climate change glossary

Fossil fuels: characteristics and effects

The greenhouse effect mechanism

Emissions and infrared absorption by greenhouse gases

Explanation of the IPCC SRES scenarios

The IPCC SRES scenarios: causes of climate change

The IPCC SRES scenarios: consequences of climate change

Overview of emission reductions for each country according to Kyoto

Possible policy measures to achieve Kyoto targets

Trading emission permits to achieve Kyoto targets

Discussions of the greenhouse effect

History of global warming

Perspectives on the greenhouse effect

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