Global warming accord takes effect
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Posted: 1337 GMT (2137 HKT)
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- After years of delays, the Kyoto global warming pact is now in effect, requiring dozens of industrial nations to reduce emissions of "greenhouse" gases believed linked to climate change.
The agreement, negotiated in the Japanese city of
Its impact, however, will be limited by the absence of the
Proponents say the stakes are high: the gases are believed to trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to rising global temperatures that are melting glaciers, raising ocean levels and threatening dramatic and potentially damaging climate change in the future.
"The tools for keeping climate change under control, such as renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, are developed and ready to use," said Greenpeace International official Stephanie Tunmore.
"There is now a price on climate pollution and penalties for polluters. The switch to a carbon economy begins here."
Implementation of the agreement was delayed by a struggle to meet the requirement that countries accounting for 55 percent of the world's emissions ratify it.
That goal was reached last year -- nearly seven years after the pact had been negotiated -- with
"We have been calling on the
The White House has contended that complying with the treaty's requirement could cost millions of jobs, many of them to places like India and China, both signers of Kyoto but exempted from any limits on greenhouse gases.
"We are still learning about the science of climate change," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday.
In the meantime, McClellan said, "We have made an unprecedented commitment to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that continues to grow our economy."
Elsewhere, officials made solemn pledges Tuesday to fulfill
The concerns are many.
The Japanese government says many industries will need quick action to meet the goals, studies show much of the country is behind on implementation, and critics say
As the agreement comes into force,
Some officials are pondering a "carbon tax" to punish polluters -- a move opposed by business -- while others favor expansion of nuclear power and promotion of energy-saving technologies.
Tetsunari Ida, executive director of
"Those two ministries are taking two separate climate change strategies," Ida said.
A METI report this month showed that 11 of 30 top industries -- steel and power among them -- risked failing to meet targets without quick action. Thirteen others had already cleared preliminary goals and were expected to meet the goals, the report said.
One area where
Those which emit less gas than allowed can sell the "credit" to other companies who emit too much.
Makoto Katagiri, whose Natsource
"From this figure, you can imagine how serious the Japanese companies (are)," Katagiri said.
The global average temperature rose about
A broad scientific consensus attributes the rise largely to the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and warns of climate disruptions later this century.