IN FOCUS

 
Published: Monday 30 June 1997

Even as symptoms of global warming are emerging around the world, a treaty to check emissions of greenhouse gases is facing stiff opposition from industries and employment agencies in the US, purportedly one of the most environment-conscious countries. With a global treaty scheduled to be framed in December, the pubic and the industry realise the seriousness of the issue. The US currently accounts for more than a fifth of 22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere every year.

People who are worried about lost jobs, however, feel that the idea of negotiating a treaty based on restrictions on emissions from industrial nations is a "fundamental error". Executives from the coal, oil, steel, electricity, chemical and automobile manufacturing industries are wary of more regulations. "We don't think it makers any sense to go forward with these negotiations," says Connie Holmes, an official of the Global Climate Coalition, industry's main lobbying group. Pressure on the US has increased since the European Union declared its pro-environmental stance by taking a decision to cut emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly from automobiles) by as much as 15 per cent by AD 2020. The hitch lies in educating the public. Experts fell the public will be an easy prey to the opponents of the treaty if it has not been informed about the issue. Eileen Claussen, assistant secretary at the state department in charge of treaty preparations, says that when it comes to the politics of the issue Europeans are much ahead of the US. "They have a strong green constituency that knows more about this (global warming) than the American public," she says. The US also has no equivalent to Europe's network of Green parties.

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