On this day four years ago, seven years after it was first negotiated, the Kyoto Protocol Treaty on Climate Change went into effect in 141 nations.
It remains the key international agreement on climate change, focusing on carbon dioxide and other gases believed to be causing a worrying rise in global temperatures, its aim to reduce the emissions from industrialised nations by around 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, although many experts still stress the need for cuts closer to 60%.
Several nations still refuse to ratify the agreement, arguing that it is unfair and will damage their economies: the USA remains the main non-signatory.
With a new president promising to “roll back the spectre of a warming planet”, how confident are you that the US, responsible for almost a quarter of global emissions, will lead the way at the next major climate change conference – in Copenhagen – later this year?
Certainly much depends on the US and China, the two greatest polluters.
President Obama has said that he plans to cut US emissions, which stand at nearly 20% above 1990 levels, back to 1990 levels by 2020. By 2050, they should be 80% below 1990 levels.
The Chinese argue that the richest nations should make the most cuts, as they are responsible for most greenhouse gases per person, and argued recently (in Poznan) that the richest countries ought to pay 0.7% of their GDP to poorer ones, to help them adapt to the effects of global warming.
Certainly, developing countries contribute least to climate change, but will likely suffer the greatest consequences of it.
What do you think of the arguments both for, and against, Kyoto? Do living standards and economic growth necessarily have to be dramatically affected by a sharp reduction in emissions? Is it fair that emerging economies, such as China and India, two of the world’s biggest producers of greenhouse gases, are not required to take any measures to reduce their emissions until 2012?
Your thoughts, as always, are very welcome – both here and in the chatroom, which will be open from 16:00 (UK).