Don't Follow This Leader
While governments in Europe and Japan are considering far-reaching proposals to comply with the Kyoto climate change treaty, including raising taxes and promoting emissions-trading systems, strong treaty opposition in the U.S. could kill the agreement. Many observers say that even if the U.S. does ratify the treaty, the nation won’t be ready to begin making serious greenhouse-gas emissions reductions by the treaty’s 2008 deadline. And if the U.S. fails to do its part, other nations are likely to drop or scale back their own compliance plans. Eileen Claussen, who oversaw planning leading up to the treaty for the Clinton administration and now heads the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, says the White House “walked away” from the treaty after helping to negotiate it. Only 13 of 84 countries that signed the treaty have ratified it, and few more are likely to do so until 2001, after a round of talks to establish compliance mechanisms and rules. Meanwhile, some American corporations are acting ahead of Congress, moving to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and their energy costs in the process.