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Global Warming, United States and the World
There are concerns that the natural ecosystem and human society is not capable of handling rapid changes in climate. Trying to deal with this challenge in a proper manner, a number of international treaties have been drawn up and many different activities have been arranged. In the year 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into being. Since that year, 192 countries have ratified it. Then in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was proposed and put into motion in the year 2005. By the 13th of May, 2008, the EEC (a regional economic integration organization) and 181 nations has ratified, approved or accepted the terms of this agreement (Kyoto Protocol: Status of Ratification, 2008). In two of the European Climate Change Programs (ECCP) the European Union decided to go beyond the stated demands of the Kyoto Protocol. They are also trying to take the lead in worldwide policy initiatives regarding the climate change fight.
If we look at the UNFCC, we see that this treaty looks at the various ways that global warming can be reduced along with possible solutions to any consequences that may arise due to changes in temperature. Convention parties are in agreement that any changes in climate are a collective responsibility and are affected by the GHG emissions. All governments who have agreed to the Convention meet and exchange information regarding GHG emissions. They also discuss their national policies, best practices being employed and try to decide on the national level strategies that can help reduce GHG emissions. Other topics of discussion include deciding strategies through which society can adapt to any expected climate changes and what kind of technical and financial support needs to be given to any developing nations. These nations make it a point to work together in preparing for the changes that will have to be made because of changes in climate (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Essential Background, 2008).
The one downside to this Convention is that it only asks countries to lower their GHG emissions and it is not binding. Due to this, the Kyoto Protocol was added to the treaty and approved by many nations. The 1997 Protocol included a number of legally binding actions that would help in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Essential Background, 2008). In 2001, during the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7), the comprehensive rules to be implemented under the Kyoto Protocol were adopted. This agreement is also referred to as the 'Marrakesh Accords' (Kyoto Protocol, 2008). In February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol was put into force.
Binding goals were set for the 37 industrialized and the European nations (also known as Annex I countries4) under the Protocol. The goal is to lower GHG emissions down to a 5% average in comparison to 1990 recorded levels. Furthermore, this reduction has to be realized within the 2008-2012 time frames. It has been noted that industrialization has been the main source of accumulation of GHG emissions. Furthermore, the developed and industrialized nations have been noted to have the most emissions. Due to this, the Protocol determined a larger burden for all economies on the basis of similar yet differing responsibilities. It is expected of the developed countries that in order to help the developing countries implement their commitments; they will aid such countries through financial resources. It is compulsory for the non-Annex I and Annex I Parties to co-operate in (a) systematic and research observation of the world's climate system; (b) the development, implementation and management of technologies that are friendly to the climate; (c) improving the data gathering methodologies for greenhouse gas; (d) and educate, train and create public awareness with regards to climatic changes (Kyoto Protocol Reference Manual on Accounting of Emissions and Assigned Amounts, 2007).
Three new mechanisms were introduced by the Kyoto Protocol, namely clean development mechanism or CDM, emissions trading and joint implementation, in order to help the economies achieve their commitments. According to the treaty's Article 17 (Decision 18/CP.7, 2001), countries can follow the emissions trading guidelines presented here such as selling spare emissions to countries who have crossed their limits. Emissions Trading Scheme was introduced as a new market by European Union in 2005 for trading for new commodity known as GHG emissions, which soon became the largest emissions market (Emission Trading Scheme, 2008). By 2006, the EU ETS accounted for, in terms of value, almost 81% of the total global carbon market and in terms of volume, accounted for 67% of the global carbon market. It was desired in the first two years of ETS operations that a critical mass for the market is enabled in order for the market to operate efficiently. The initial assessment, according to the accompanying document to the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87 / EC (2008), showed that the market had achieved the desired credibility because the trading has evolved to help the economies achieve their commitments of the Kyoto Protocol.
The reason for this is that clean development mechanism helped stimulate investments in the projects of emission reduction. As stated by the Article 12 of the Action taken by the Conference of the Parties that were part of the convention that took place of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol during the very first session that it had in the year 2006. The main aim of the clean development mechanism is to assist the non-Annex I Parties in the Kyoto Protocol to achieve a sustainable growth and development which ultimately contributes to the overall aim of the Protocol as well as assists the Annex I Parties to achieve their goals and commitments to the limitation and reduction of emissions in the developing countries as stated under the Article 3 of this Protocol. A definition of joint implementation is presented in the Kyoto Protocol's Article 6. Joint implementation is a method through which the commitment to limitation or reduction of emission can be achieved in order for the country to meets its target to remove emission in another country of Annex B. Party set under the Kyoto Protocol such as the ERUs (which is equivalent to the one ton of CO2). This joint mechanism according to the Joint Implementation (2008) allows the countries not only to fulfill their Kyoto commitments but also helps in transfer of technology and FDI to developing countries which can add to their growth and development.
In this paper, we will discuss how the Kyoto Protocol and the United States' attitude towards it, highlights the primary problems that the United States has with the global warming measures across the globe. The introduction was merely an introduction of the demands of the Kyoto protocol and the attitude of the majority countries towards it. We will now discuss how the same protocols were dealt with in the United States and discuss why they had such a negative attitude towards it.
United States and the Kyoto Protocol
Various attitudes can be observed across different developed countries towards the Kyoto Protocol. Even though United States withdrew from the Kyoto treaty; Australia, because of its political leadership change, ratified the Kyoto treaty in 2008. United States withdrew from the treaty under the Bush Administration in 2001 from the 1997 climate change treaty of the Kyoto Protocol because the country would then have to reduce its greenhouse gases by 7% below the levels of 1990 during the period of 2008-2012. This led to negative economic consequences due to which many countries like China and India were exempted from the Protocol (President Bush discusses global climate change, 2001).
The government of U.S. claimed that the industry would be bearing a loss of over $400 billion if the mandatory units remain under the Kyoto protocol (United Nations Foundation, 2002). Similarly, jobs will encounter a loss approximating at 4.9 million as well. This was the only economic rationale behind the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol by U.S. that resulted from the estimates to be borne by U.S. leading towards a disproportionate share of the burden of adjustment. The successful implementation by Kyoto mandates will result in a loss of 1.7 million jobs in the period of 2007-2010 (Kyoto Protocol and Beyond: The High Economic Cost to the United States, 2002). Moreover, studies confirm the degradation in GDP as well by 2.9% in the Kyoto compliance period of 2008-2012, which would mount up to 3.0% to 3.5% by the year 2020. A rough estimate of about 5.5 trillion USD is considered to be required for completion of the Kyoto mandates by the economy in U.S.. Energy related activities in the U.S. contribute nearly three quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions, and are considered to be the biggest source of GHG emissions. Transportation forms one third part of the GHG emissions while half of them come from factories and power plants. As customers tend to make an adjustment with the rapidly…[continue]
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