The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and a climate agreement to replace it, the Bali Roadmap, has been put together with much difficulty. This international agreement will, by 2009, have developed and developing countries working towards set greenhouse gas reduction goals. The United States, which did not participate in the Kyoto Protocol, will be party to the roadmap, and with developing countries also obligated to work towards reductions, this document really means something. The United States emits 20 percent of greenhouse gasses and does close to nothing about it, so the document would mean little without the Americans on board. Also essential in dealing with this global crisis are China and India, which rank second and fifth, respectively, in emissions rates.
Still, the contents of document do not meet with expectations. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, initially suggested reductions of between 25 and 40 percent of 1990 rates by 2020. It was the least that could be done to prevent climatic disaster. The United Nations Development Plan, or UNDP, in its Human Development Report 2007/2008, called on developed nations to engage in 80 percent reductions and for developing countries to enact 20 percent reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States, Canada, Japan, and Russia all opposed obligatory reduction goals and timetables until the very end, however, so that part of the document was removed. Those countries even rejected a compromise that would reduce emissions by 2050 to half of what they were in 2000.
What this means is that those countries just have to establish some degree of compulsory reduction goals in the course of working out the rest of this latest agreement. The United States is trying to create a global order on climate change that is self-centered, as are China and India. While the roadmap has developing nations participating, it calls for voluntary reduction goals. You wonder how many countries are going to set goals they will act on. The United States (29%) and the European Union (27%) emit overwhelmingly more than the others and need to bear that much more responsibility.
South Korea is listed as a country for which reductions are voluntary. It actually ranks 9th in greenhouse gas emissions and 6th in oil consumption. Its rate increase for emissions ranks the highest among OECD member states. This is why the international community has cited Korea as the first country that needs to be included in compulsory reductions. The way we are benefiting is embarrassing. We need to voluntarily set reduction goals that befit our responsibilities and obligations in the international community. Only by doing so will we be able to change our industrial structure from one that is high on energy and low on efficiency, to one that is low on energy and high on efficiency.
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