Cool response to global warming plan
TOKYO, Japan -- U.S. President George W. Bush's revised plan to combat global warming has met with a mixed international reaction.
Environmentalists have largely dismissed as inadequate the voluntary plan to slow the growth of global-warming gases in place of mandatory cuts demanded by the widely accepted Kyoto Protocol.
Japan's Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki said on Friday he wasn't entirely happy with the plan, adding that Japan would go ahead and ratify the Kyoto treaty rejected by Washington.
Bush presented a voluntary plan on Thursday to slow the growth of heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. The plan was in contrast to the mandatory limits sought in the 1997 Kyoto Treaty which Washington has shunned, saying it would harm the economy.
"It's obvious that this plan won't achieve the seven percent reduction target, which the United States had agreed to in Kyoto," Oki said.
Under the 1997 Kyoto deal, industrialized nations agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Greenhouse gases, which come mainly from burning fossil fuels, are thought to cause rising global temperatures.
The Kyoto treaty set a target for the United States to reduce emissions by about seven percent below 1990 levels within a decade.
Bush irritated many U.S. allies by rejecting the pact last March saying it would hurt the U.S. economy while other large polluters such as China and India were exempted.
Australia puts economy first
Bush's plan did find favor with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
Howard's support of the Bush plan has renewed doubts that Canberra would ratify the Kyoto treaty.
Australia is a signatory to Kyoto but has not yet decided if it will ratify the United Nations anti-pollution treaty.
"We are a net exporter of energy, and unless you have the developing countries involved we would be hurt," Howard told a news conference.
"Our position ... it is much closer to that of the United States than the attitude of the European countries. I do think what the president indicates in his speech will lead to an alternative to simply saying 'no' to the Kyoto Protocol, and I welcome that."
The left-leaning Australian Democrats said Australia's conservative government should not draw legitimacy for a rejection of Kyoto from Bush's alternative plan.
"The federal government should choose to be a team player," spokeswoman Lyn Allison said in a statement. "Australia and the United States are already seen as global hypocrites for taking a narrow, self-interested stand on climate change."
Europe backs Kyoto
The European Union has tentatively welcomed U.S. President George W. Bush's new plan to tackle climate change but said the Kyoto treaty he has rejected was still the best response to global warming.
After the U.S. pullout, the European Union launched a diplomatic offensive to get other big polluters, such as Japan and Russia, to keep the Kyoto accord afloat, securing an agreement at U.N. meetings in Germany and Morocco.
"It is positive that the U.S. administration is realizing that there needs to be something done about climate change but we feel that the multilateral approach is the best way to face up to this tremendous challenge," EU Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen said.
Environmentalists lashed out at Bush's voluntary plan, saying it would do nothing to curb U.S. greenhouse gases.
Greenpeace said it looked like the policies would still allow U.S. emissions to rise 29 percent above 1990 levels by the end of the decade.
Bush touts global warming plan
February 14, 2002
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