- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2001

European ministers, stung by President Bush's rejection of the global-warming treaty, say they will try to get other industrial nations to ratify the treaty over the United States' head.
"We are prepared to go on alone, to go on without the United States," said Kjell Larsson, the environment minister of Sweden, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, after failing to convince top Bush administration officials at meetings yesterday to reconsider their stance on the treaty.
"We cannot allow one country to kill the process," he said, referring to the series of negotiations since 1992 that led to the drafting of the treaty in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997.
Mr. Bush campaigned against the treaty, saying it unfairly exempts developing countries from steep cuts in energy use and emissions, while imposing stringent curbs on the United States that would hurt its economy.
European leaders nevertheless were stunned and angered when the White House last month said it would shelve the treaty. Leaders from New Zealand, Japan and several other nations also have protested the U.S. move.
European Union ministers say they want to ratify the treaty by 2002, though none of the 15 members of the union has done so as yet. Winning ratification without the United States would not be easy, since it is the world's largest consumer of energy and produces one-quarter of all man-made "greenhouse" gases.
To take effect, the treaty would have to be ratified by at least 55 nations that collectively produce 55 percent or more of the carbon dioxide and other gases thought to cause global warming. Romania is the only industrial nation so far to have ratified the treaty.
Mr. Larsson said he and other European ministers will meet in the next week with leaders from Russia, Canada, Japan, China and Iran, which currently represents a group of 77 developing countries, in an effort to win support for ratification without the United States.
Mr. Larsson acknowledged it would be difficult to curb global warming without the United States and said he was willing to consider taking a "fresh, new approach," as suggested by the Bush administration. But he said he doubted that would succeed.
"The Kyoto Protocol is still alive," he said. "No individual country has the right to declare a multilateral agreement as dead."
Phil Goff, foreign minister of New Zealand, earlier this week appeared less willing than the Europeans to go on without the United States.
"We would expect the United States to remain involved and to work with the international community to find a solution," he said.
Margot Wallstroem, the European Union's environment commissioner, warned that countries pursuing ratification without the United States might rewrite the treaty to exclude mechanisms sought by Americans to make it less costly to reduce emissions.
"The construction of the Kyoto mechanisms were American ideas from the beginning," she said. "But that will change if they withdraw."
Negotiations aimed at working out details of the Kyoto treaty collapsed at The Hague last year because Europeans were unwilling to accommodate various U.S. "mechanisms," including a proposal to allow countries to rely on carbon-absorbing forests and grasslands to achieve their emissions cuts.
Miss Wallstroem scolded the United States for putting its economy ahead of the world's climate. "Of course there is a cost to this, but there is also a cost to climate change," she said.
She added that by arguing the agreement would hurt the U.S. economy, the United States has only made it more difficult to win agreement from developing countries to reduce emissions.
"If you say we cannot afford to take action, what do you think will be the argument from the least-developed nations?" she asked.
Bush administration officials said after meeting with the Europeans that they view global warming as a real problem and are still developing a strategy to deal with it.
The administration's goal, they said, is to work with other countries to draft a new treaty that is more workable and fair at negotiations in Bonn in July.
"The Kyoto Protocol is unfair to the United States and to other industrialized nations because it exempts 80 percent of the world from compliance," said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman.
"I am optimistic [that] we can develop technologies, market-based incentives and other innovative approaches to global climate change," she said.


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