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Europe ratifies global warming pact

United States urged to help ‘take the lead’

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 — All 15 European Union nations ratified the Kyoto protocol on global warming Friday and goaded Washington — which has turned its back on the treaty — to reverse course and do its part. The Kyoto pact, which grew out of the historic 1992 Earth Summit and was signed in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, is aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, which many scientists fear are raising global temperatures.

 IT REQUIRES industrialized nations to cut their emissions by an average of 5 percent over the period 2008-2012.

But Washington, the world’s largest emitter of the gases, shunned the treaty shortly after President Bush took office last year, arguing it would harm the U.S. economy.

The pact would have required the United States, which accounted for 36 percent of the industrialized world’s greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, to trim emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels.

The Bush administration has instead announced policy changes likely to push them up by 30 percent by 2010, the European Commission said. Over the last five years, U.S. emissions rose more than 8 percent, said Margot Wallstrom, European commissioner for the environment.

At a ceremony at U.N. headquarters in New York, representatives of all 15 EU nations and the European Commission handed papers from their respective nations to U.N. Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell, signifying their national legislatures had approved the pact.


Wallstrom called the ceremony “an historic moment for global efforts to combat climate change” but said Washington had to pitch in.

“The United States is the only nation to have spoken out against and rejected the global framework for addressing climate change. The European Union urges the United States to reconsider its position,” she said. “All countries have to act, but the industrialized world has to take the lead.”

To take effect, the pact must be ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 percent of developed countries’ carbon dioxide emissions. Seventy nations have now ratified, representing 26.6 percent of wealthy nations’ emissions.

Of the 41 nations that have signed but not yet ratified, Japan has given notice it would ratify shortly and Russia was expected to ratify by the end of the year, which would give the protocol the necessary 55 percent, Wallstrom said.

Netherlands Environment Minister Jan Pronk also pressed Canada to ratify, saying it was key to the effort


The European Union as a bloc is on course to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases by 8 percent from 1990 levels, but the picture is patchy across the bloc.

Total EU emissions were down 3.5 percent in 2000, according to data issued last month by the European Environment Agency.

But many member states are finding it tough to meet their individual targets as set under a “burden sharing” agreement.

That agreement allowed Spain to increase its emissions by 15 percent, but its emissions were already up 33.7 percent by 2000. Eight other EU countries were also falling short of the necessary emissions cuts, the agency said.

The biggest EU cuts have been made by Britain and Germany, two of the biggest EU economies, which have reduction targets of 12 percent and 21 percent respectively,

Britain has slashed carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5 percent by using less coal and more natural gas to generate electricity. Germany’s emissions fell by 19 percent, largely due to the closing of inefficient and dirty industry in the former communist east.

2002 Reuters Limited.



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