News Release

With the Kyoto Pact Taking Effect, Eyes of World Are on U.S. Rejection


The Kyoto Protocol on climate change will take effect on Wednesday (February 16). The United States initially signed up to Kyoto’s framework but the Bush administration rejected the accord in March 2001. The administration also opposes caps on carbon dioxide emissions, deemed responsible for the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Gelbspan is the author of the upcoming article “Sign Here to Save the Planet” in Grist magazine and of the book The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, The Cover-Up, The Prescription. He said today: “The much-discussed Kyoto Protocol takes effect on February 16. In the face of the United States’ continuing refusal to sign on to the international agreement, [a drive has been launched] to gather millions of signatures in this country for a ‘People’s Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty.’ … In January, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, declared that the world has ‘already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere’ and called for immediate and ‘very deep’ cuts in emissions if humanity is to ‘survive.'”
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Jessica Coven, Greenpeace USA’s leading climate campaigner, has recently returned from the Kyoto negotiations. She said today: “Every new piece of scientific evidence that emerges on global warming emphasizes the urgent need for action by the United States. Recognizing this, many local governments and states have established initiatives to address climate change in spite of the Bush administration’s efforts to perpetuate disinformation and inaction. … During the Kyoto negotiations I monitored the efforts by coal and utility lobbyists — working hand in hand with Kuwaiti and Saudi lobbyists — to undermine the treaty.”
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Trenberth is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and was a lead author of the 2001 climate change report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He said today: “The Kyoto Protocol is a first step toward slowing the rate of emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and, with incentives in place, the potential exists for major developments in new technologies. … There are uncertainties about how climate will change. But climate will change. And it could be very disruptive. There will be substantial costs incurred often by innocent people and countries.”
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Research Director for Greenpeace USA, Davies said today: “Canada, Europe, and Japan stand to reap the financial and societal benefits of being first in the race to produce and utilize climate-friendly technologies while the United States continues to use taxpayer dollars to illegally fund fossil fuel projects overseas that commercial banks deem too risky.” [Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the city of Boulder, Colorado, are suing two U.S. government agencies for illegally funding international fossil fuel projects that are causing global-warming-related impacts on U.S. citizens.] More Information

Athanasiou is the author of an upcoming Foreign Policy in Focus commentary titled “A Glass Half Full? The Kyoto Protocol, and Beyond” and a co-author of the book Dead Heat: Global Justice and Global Warming. He said today: “The first thing to say about Kyoto’s entry into force on February 16 is that it is a significant victory. … The second is that, if it’s not soon followed by other victories, deeper and even more challenging ones, the Earth’s climate will soon — think 2050 or even sooner — be transformed into one that is far more inhospitable, and even hostile, than even most environmentalists imagine. … The question is no longer if we can avoid dangerous climate change (time’s up on that account) but rather if we can avoid catastrophic climate change.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167