Experts discount generic fix for global warming

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The failure or success of the embattled Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions should not sway countries in the South from developing their own, more appropriate agreements, according to a new report. Kyoto-or a Kyoto-type of agreement-will not work for developing countries, Elliot Diringer, director of international strategies at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told.

A wide range of mechanisms, and regional approaches in particular, will be needed instead, the Pew report says. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meeting in Milan, Italy, from December 1-12 to attempt to rescue the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol is an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that has been signed by 177 countries, including the United States. While the George W. Bush administration withdrew its support, the agreement could still be enforced if Russia joins the European countries and others, including Canada that has ratified it. Russia was widely expected to ratify the treaty until top officials expressed concerns this month that it would hinder economic growth.

However, even with strong efforts far beyond those of Kyoto in developed countries, developing country emissions must fall below business-as-usual projections if atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations are to be stabilized by 2100, the Pew report notes. The report, ‘Beyond Kyoto: Advancing the International Effort Against Climate Change,’ found that the rapid rise in GHG emissions in the South is driven by development imperatives-in particular, the need for energy and economic growth. This is actively encouraged by flows of investment and technology supporting conventional paths of development.

The authors of the report consulted experts, officials and stakeholders from more than 30 countries. Pew is a nonpartisan US-based group funded by charitable organizations. “Trade and development flows from the North need to be recast to both meet the needs of the South and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Diringer.

Development assistance for energy ought to be directed to low-carbon emitting energy sources, he notes. However, this does not open the door for mega-dams or nuclear power plants because they pose their own significant environmental impacts. But in order to focus on climate change, more pressing issues of food security, poverty relief, energy growth and access, urban transport, and land use need to be addressed first, the report advises.

The study, which reviewed all of the available scientific data, was carried out by Thomas Karl of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s
(Noaa) National Climatic Data Center in the state of North Carolina, and Kevin Trenberth, director of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Ncar) in Colorado. It appears in the December 5 issue of the journal Science.
(The Manila Times)