US will return to Kyoto Protocol, says France

7th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 7 (AFP) - The United States will sooner or later rejoin the Kyoto Protocol, even though the Bush administration still shuns the United Nations' global warming pact, French Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier said Tuesday.

PARIS, Dec 7 (AFP) - The United States will sooner or later rejoin the Kyoto Protocol, even though the Bush administration still shuns the United Nations' global warming pact, French Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier said Tuesday.

Lepeltier, speaking on France-Inter radio, said that the Protocol, due to take effect February 16, would become an irresistible force.

"I am convinced that we are going to bring the United States into Kyoto, even if it doesn't want to," he said.

Lepeltier suggested the US federal government would be caught in a "vice". It would be pressured on one side by US firms doing business in Europe and on the other by US states, such as California, which are starting to take individual action on climate change, he predicted.

"American corporations which have operations in Europe ... are going to have to meet the rules which we set in place to uphold Kyoto, at least on (European) soil," Lepeltier said.

"It may not happen today and it may not happen tomorrow, but the United States will inevitably have to develop these technologies because they do not want to lag, which would be a major risk for their companies."

The interview came a day after the start of a new round of talks on Kyoto, which President George W. Bush abandoned in March 2001 in one of his first decisions in office.

Kyoto requires industrialised countries to curb emissions of carbon gas that are blamed for trapping the Sun's heat, thus driving up atmospheric temperatures and disturbing Earth's fragile climate system.

The gas is mainly derived from burning oil, gas and coal, the fossil fuels that are the backbone of the global economy.

Bush declared he would not put the draft treaty to the US Senate for ratification, mainly because it would be too costly for the oil-dependent American economy.

Kyoto runs out on 2012 but negotiations begin next year on a successor to it.

Speaking on Monday at the start of the conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Washington's senior climate change negotiator Harlan Watson ruled out any change of position.

"For the United States, any future treaty should not hurt the country's economy and should cover every country in the world, including developing nations," he said.

Supporters of Kyoto are confident that even without the United States, the biggest single culprit for global warming, the treaty will succeed.

They point to the treaty's combination of legally binding rules and market mechanisms, designed to motivate corporations into adopting clean technology and energy efficiency in return for making or saving money.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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