- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Japan is refusing to go along with the European Union's attempts to ratify the global-warming treaty without the United States, but European officials say that most other countries are sympathetic to their cause.
The treaty, which was drafted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, could go into effect if it is ratified by industrialized nations that produce 55 percent or more of the gases said to cause global warming. That threshold could not be met without either Japan or the United States. The United States alone reportedly produces one-quarter of all manmade greenhouse gases and Japan also is one of the top producers.
"At this moment, Japan is not thinking of ratifying the protocol without the United States," said Hakariko Ono, spokeswoman for a delegation of Japanese environment ministers that met with Bush officials here last week.
The Japanese delegation pressed the administration to reconsider its opposition to the treaty, and held out hope that the United States eventually will rejoin negotiations with the rest of the world.
Canada and Australia also are believed to be skeptical of the European proposal.
But European leaders, who yesterday wrapped up a global tour to push ratification without the United States, said they will continue to press their case and have been encouraged by the reception they've received from most nations other than Japan.
"We had quite a positive statement and quite a positive message from Iran [which represents a group of 77 developing nations], and also from Russia and China about going on even without the United States," said Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson. The current president of the 15-member European Union spoke at a press conference in Tokyo.
"I think we have very strong support [for the treaty] from all countries but the United States," he said, noting that even China has pledged to do all it can to curb its emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The treaty does not impose the deep cuts below 1990 emissions levels on China that it imposes on the United States and other industrial nations. China, India and other potentially large emissions producers in the Third World are required to make only voluntary efforts to comply with the treaty.
It is the exemption of China and other developing countries that has most irritated the United States and led to the rejection of the treaty both in the Senate and by the Bush administration.
The Europeans are using both carrots and sticks to try to force the United States back to the negotiating table or, short of that, get an agreement without the United States.
Jon Pronk, the Dutch chairman of negotiations slated for Bonn in July, said he is working on a draft compromise document that would be more favorable to the United States than compromises discussed in negotiations at The Hague, which ended in collapse last year.
The latest proposal would allow the United States to rely on the carbon-absorbing powers of its forests and grasslands to achieve a larger portion of the treaty's emissions cuts than Europeans would agree to at The Hague talks, officials said.
U.S. farmers, ranchers and rural state Republicans in Congress support reliance on such carbon-absorbing "sinks."
But in another major area of contention the Europeans are making it clear the United States will lose out big-time if it doesn't sign onto the treaty because it will not be eligible to purchase emissions credits from other countries.
The credits were designed by the Clinton administration to make it easier and less costly to comply with the treaty championed by former Vice President Al Gore.
Russia and the East European countries have the most credits to sell under the Clinton scheme, since most of them are producing far less emissions than the treaty permits because of the collapse of their economies since 1990.
The ex-Soviet bloc countries actually could make money under the treaty if it were ratified today, with or without the United States, because of the scheme permitting them to sell credits to countries that are over their limits.
Europeans, in urging Japan and other nations to ratify the treaty without the United States, are pointing out that the credits would cost much less without the potentially enormous demand from U.S. businesses, making it easier for nations that ratify the treaty.

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