It appears that if the Bush administration will not address the ever growing problem of global warming then it is up to individuals to make a stand. That stand is starting with New York state governor George Pataki who will announce a nine north-eastern and mid-Atlantic state plan to address global warming.
The development will prove a major embarrassment to the Bush government, which provoked considerable condemnation in 2001 by pulling out of the 1997 Kyoto climate control treaty. Many believe that the Bush administration had hoped to kill off Kyoto by opposing it. However, the recent decision by Russia to sign up has meant that the treaty has been saved.
With Russia now interested in backing the Kyoto treaty it appears that the initiative will be saved and the momentum will continue. Some believe that the nine state project — dubbed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — might eventually force Bush to join Kyoto and work to make progress again.
Environmental officials from the states will meet in New York today, to try to thrash out some of the remaining technical issues yet to be resolved. It is hoped that the cap and trade scheme can be operational by 2007 or 2008.
I believe this is a great step in the right direction and it is great news for people like us that have hopes of making progress on environmental issues even though our newly elected leader is so against progress. The Kyoto treaty aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries by 5 per cent over the next decade.
There are some downsides to the Kyoto treaty though and we need to address them in a way that will benefit all involved. Recently Russia did pull back from their promised to support the treaty until they look at all the data.
Russia hopes to double its gross domestic product over the next decade, which will be impossible if it has to hold itself to the protocol. Mr. Putin’s key economics advisor Andrei Illarionov argued recently, “The Kyoto Protocol will stymie economic growth. It will doom Russia to poverty, weakness and backwardness.” Many of Mr. Putin’s critics argued that he held back to bargain for additional Western aid. But it is likely that the real reasons are that Kyoto’s economic costs will be high, its scientific foundation is still unsettled and its mitigating effects will be almost insignificant. Even if all eligible nations subjected themselves to Kyoto’s strictures, the change to global temperatures would still be almost negligible. After all, the treaty exempts developing countries like China and India. Besides, climate change models still do an incomplete job accounting for all the variables involved.
The bottom line is that immediate action is needed because the ball is already rolling. To start now will not stop the build-up of gasses in our atmosphere or global warming. It is going to be a long time before we see reductions and the opinions of the conservative Washington Times are correct, there will not be immediate reductions in overall global temperature. We do need to start somewhere though and stop the ball from rolling. We need to do it in a way that will benefit the world as a whole and yes, there will be some downsides but we need to deal with those issues and move to make progress where we can. The RGGI initiative is a great step in the right direction.