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Is George Bush back-tracking on the Kyoto Protocol

00:00 Thu 14th Jun 2001 |

asks Rtell:
A.
Yes and no. He's saying that he won't change his mind about the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which committed the US and 167 other countries to binding limits on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. However, this week he announced that the US government will spend millions of dollars on research into climate control and look for new technologies to limit greenhouse gases.

Q. What's his problem with the Kyoto Protocol
A.
He believes it was 'in many ways unrealistic' and that its targets were 'arbitrary and not based on science'. He also thinks that there are 'scientific uncertainties' over greenhouse gases.

Q. Nothing to do with pressure from US oil companies, then
A.
Whatever made you think that

Q. Is the US the only country not to have ratified the pact
A.
No - many countries, including most European states, have failed to ratify the pact. But even George Bush has recognised that the US is the largest producer of man-made greenhouse gases and that it has a responsibility to reduce emissions.

Q. So what's he going to do about it
A.
He favours voluntary measures and flexible limits.

Q. Is this enough
A.
Not according to experts. The US environmental defence fund's chief scientist, Michael Oppenheimer, says, 'The threat from global warming will continue to grow until these gases are brought under control.' The new Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, announced�that, if they were serious about it, it would have to be dealt with in a mandatory, rather than a voluntary way.

Q. How serious is the problem of greenhouse gases
A.
According to a new report by the US National Academy of Sciences, the Earth's temperature is rising, and it's mainly because of human activities. The intergovernmental panel on climate change says that if we don't change our behaviour, the average world temperature could rise by 5.8C within ten years. That's the hottest for 10,000 years. Needless to say, the results could be calamitous.

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By Sheena Miller

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