climate change > newsfile > us-led emissions pact seen as kyoto rival
US-led emissions pact seen as Kyoto rivalPosted: 28 Jul 2005
by Fred Pearce
The world�s four largest coal-consuming countries have announced a pact to share technology for limiting emissions of greenhouse gases. The US, China, India, Australia - plus Japan and South Korea - signed what is being seen as a rival to the Kyoto Protocol to curb climate change, which the US and Australia have refused to sign.
The new pact will be known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate. It allows the countries to set their own goals for emissions of greenhouse gases, with no enforcement measures. This is in contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrial nations to accept legally binding emissions targets.
The Australian prime minister John Howard said the deal would be �fairer� than the Kyoto Protocol, and that it �demonstrated the very strong commitment of Australia to reducing greenhouse gas emissions�.
But critics point out that Australia pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, having cited it as too arduous, even though it gave Australia a uniquely favourable deal under which it could increase its emissions by 8% between 1990 and 2010.
Environmental groups swiftly condemned the pact. Without legally binding caps on emissions it is �like a peace plan that allows guns to be fired�, says Jennifer Morgan, climate campaigner at WWF International.
Catherine Pearce at Friends of the Earth in London, UK, calls it �another attempt to undermine the Kyoto Protocol�. The leader of the Australian Green Party, Bob Brown, called the deal a �coal pact�.
Both the US and Australian governments have been investing heavily in recent years in research and development for �clean coal� technologies. The aim is to reduce pollution from burning coal, which is currently the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. Their companies will now hope for increased access to Asian markets for their technologies.
The planned pact was not mentioned when the leaders of the G8 met in Gleneagles, under the chairmanship of UK prime minister Tony Blair earlier in July. But British climate negotiators have for some time been briefing about the possibility of the formation of a US-led pact on climate change that would run �in parallel� with the Kyoto Protocol.
There is speculation that the new group will seek to reach a formal agreement with the signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. Such an agreement might allow companies from the new group who sell clean technologies to developing countries to gain carbon permits that could be traded with companies operating under the Kyoto Protocol.
But this would be controversial because companies operating under the Kyoto Protocol would have to abide by domestic limits on their emissions, while those in the new pact would not.
Source: New Scientist