Air Pollution Control Equipment Services, Emissions

Kyoto Protocol set to enhance global actions on climate change

11 February 2005 – Governments and businesses will take a major step forward in reducing the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions next Wednesday, February 16, when the landmark Kyoto Protocol comes into effect for all industrialized countries except the United States and Australia.

There have already been many encouraging results of having an official agreement in place between nations. For instance, the 25 countries of the European Union launched their multibillion-dollar Emissions Trading Scheme in January; the United Kingdom has already achieved emissions reductions that exceed its Kyoto targets; France this month announced details of a plan to triple its biofuel output; Japan has set industry and fossil fuel taxes; and Canada is advancing a domestic emissions trading programme. Even China and India, regarded as essential to any long-term climate solution, have incorporated climate actions into energy and development policies, spurred considerably by the Kyoto process.

“Kyoto coming into force is a positive step,” said Jonathan Pershing, director Climate and Energy Programme at Washington D.C.- based, World Resources Institute. “It makes clear that the world will take this problem seriously, and establishes a framework for addressing it.”

Unfortunately, scientific evidence increasingly suggests that climate change is already occurring and may proceed at faster rates than previously thought. And while the Kyoto Protocol represents progress, the World Resources Institute (WRI) notes that governments and businesses must aggressively prepare further reforms if the most serious effects are to be averted.

“In particular, it remains critical that the US engage with the global community in developing and implementing next steps. With 21 per cent of global GHG emissions and enormous technical and technological capacity, it is impossible to imagine a successful climate future without active US participation,” Pershing added.

WRI notes that even though the US has not ratified the agreement, some action is underway, particularly at the state level. Nearly 40 US states have developed their own climate plans, an emission-trading system is emerging in the Northeast states, and nearly 20 states have adopted aggressive standards for renewable energy. Additionally, there have been more than 100 congressional proposals related to climate policy — from representatives of nearly every state — in the past two years.

Businesses too are beginning to take emissions reductions more seriously. Fortune 500 company efforts include purchases of green power by Staples, use of landfill gas by General Motors to produce power in its manufacturing facilities, and General Electric’s significant investment in developing its wind-power and solar-energy businesses.

“Companies across many sectors are realizing a growing need to produce renewable energy and incorporate efficiency measures,” said Jim Harmon, chairman of the board, WRI, and chairman of the financial advisory firm Harmon & Co. “Because of Kyoto, many global companies whose business transactions cross borders now must deal with legislation on GHG emissions.”