Mighty clash

Published: Friday 15 September 2000

a clash between the us and the European Union (eu) over the rules for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as agreed in the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, seems to be inevitable. The us in a submission to the United Nations has said that the Kyoto Protocol must recognise forests and agricultural land as vast sinks that absorb carbon dioxide, which is the main contributor to global warming.

The us under the Kyoto Protocol agreement had agreed to cut its carbon emissions by 7 per cent latest by 2012, from the 1990 levels. This would require at least 30 per cent reduction in overall emission levels which are a result of large-scale industrial development. Therefore, it is proposing a system through which countries with more forest cover should get additional benefits as forests help in reducing atmospheric carbon content to a great extent. The eu sees this system as a charade by the us, to avoid imposing a carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions. They argue that since uncertainty exists as to whether trees are able to reduce carbon emissions, the system suggested by the us should not be given the same status as emissions reductions.

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