MYTH 10: THE KYOTO PROTOCOL REQUIRES ALL COUNTRIES TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE
of the Kyoto Protocol, most particularly former vice president Al Gore, tout
it as the optimal international mechanism to curb global warming.
The idea behind it, we are told, is that it binds everyone to work together
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This notion has taken hold in the popular
consciousness. Roughly 60 percent of respondents to the MI/Zogby survey indicated
that they believe that the Kyoto treaty requires all countries to cut their
emissions of greenhouse gases.
fact, the Kyoto Protocol does not require every nation to reduce its greenhouse
gas levels. Overall, Kyoto requires developed nations to reduce emissions by
a total of 5 percent by 2012, but the reductions negotiated by particular treaty
participants vary according to each signatorys situation. Several nations
actually are permitted increases in their greenhouse gas emissions from 1990
levels, while others are allowed to maintain the same levels. Perhaps most objectionable
is the treatment received by signatories China and India: despite contributing
huge stores of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, both nations are exempt from
making any reductions. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions from China, India,
and other developing countries will likely account for most of the global
increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the next quarter-century.
The International Energy Agency projects that China will lead the world in emitting
carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas linked to global warming, by 2009.
Public ignorance about the Kyoto Protocol has allowed treaty proponents to
assume the moral high ground, singling out the United States for refusing to
comply with its obligations under the treaty, which was signed by Vice President
Al Gore in 1998 but never submitted to the Senate for approval. (The first phase
of the treaty would require the United States to cut its greenhouse gas emissions
during the 200812 time frame to a level that is 7 percent lower than the
amount emitted in 1990.)