The Kyoto Protocol

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The United States has also been criticized for its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed at reducing emissions from fossil fuels for the purpose of reducing global climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement that calls for the world's 38 most industrialized countries to reduce fossil fuel emissions to an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States committed to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, which called for stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, helped to draft the Kyoto document in 1997, and signed it in 1998, agreeing, at least initially, to a 7 percent cut in emissions. However, President George W. Bush refused to ratify the protocol; ratification would make it mandatory for the United States to abide by the agreement. Bush has objected to the protocol's exclusion of developing countries from the reduction, which was based on the fact that industrialization was considered vital to their economies. The president has said that the reduction in emissions would seriously harm the U.S. economy and the protocol is too lenient on developing countries whose consumption of these fuels is on the rise. Remaining steadfast in the decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the United States has entered into other global agreements that attempt to address the global climate change issue. For example, the United States joined with Australia, India, Japan, China, and South Korea to form the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, or AP6. Member countries, which are responsible for about 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, entered into a non-treaty agreement to cooperate on developing and implementing technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement, first announced July 28,

2005, at an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum meeting, allows countries to set their own goals for reducing emissions, and there is no mechanism for mandating compliance. On January 12, 2006, the member countries agreed to a formal charter, communiqué, and work plan for addressing climate change, energy security, and air pollution. Because AP6, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, imposes no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, environmentalists and nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol have called AP6 meaningless. There has also been a grassroots movement among mayors in the United States to fill the gap left by the U.S. refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Mayors from more than 220 U.S. cities, representing more than 40 million Americans, have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, an agreement to meet or exceed the U.S. target for reducing greenhouse emissions as specified in the Kyoto Protocol (a reduction of 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012), despite the federal government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

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