Friday, September 21, 2007
It has been 15 years since the historic Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, a meeting that laid the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocols and subsequent international climate talks. Unfortunately, the anniversary didn't offer much to celebrate. The goal of the Kyoto Accord was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the so-called "industrialized countries" by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels. Emissions in most countries, however, have continued trending upward. U.S. emissions, for example, increased by roughly 16 percent between 1990 and 2004. In Canada, emissions ramped up even more sharply; our northern neighbors saw an increase in GHG emissions of nearly 27 percent between 1990 and 2004. And, in China and India, both of which are exempt from Kyoto, emissions increased by roughly 50 percent in the same time frame. You probably already know all this but it bares repeating. If you weren't aware, well, ... sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but facts are facts. The question for the world going forward is how, having failed to realize even the very modest goals of Kyoto, we can hope to achieve the radical emissions reductions required to avoid the worst cosequences of warming.