Dutch legally bound to Kyoto Protocol targets

16th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Kyoto Protocol, which commits signatory nations, including the Netherlands, to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, came into force on Wednesday.

16 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Kyoto Protocol, which commits signatory nations, including the Netherlands, to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, came into force on Wednesday.

Some 141 countries, accounting for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the treaty, which pledges to cut these emissions by 5.2 percent by 2012. 

The key to the protocol becoming legally binding came after the Russian Parliament signed the treaty last November, some seven years after it was first drawn up in Kyoto, Japan.

Russia's entry was vital because the treaty had to be ratified by nations accounting for at least 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions to become valid.

Each country has been set its own individual targets according to its pollution levels, but developing nations such as China and India were temporarily exempted from the treaty, news service NOS reported.

And the world's largest polluter, the US, has refused to ratify the protocol.  President George Bush said in 2001 reducing his nation's air pollution emissions by 7 percent would have too much of a negative impact on the economy.

Australia has not ratified the pact either. Prime Minister John Howard refused to sign it at the last moment, asserting the protocol was not worth anything given the fact that large polluters such as the US and China were not signatories. Other countries such as Croatia and Monaco have not ratified the pact either.

The Netherlands is one of the signatories and is required to reduce its emissions by 6 percent. A special commission has been established to ensure the nation meets its targets.

Major companies like steel producer Corus and oil and gas giant Shell have been informed by the Dutch government how much greenhouse gas they can emit. If they are come under that amount, they can sell so-called "credits" to other companies struggling to meet targets.

But the Netherlands faces an uphill battle to meet its targets laid down by the protocol. Environmental pollution has been declining for the past decade, but not quickly enough.

Besides the negative environmental and public health affects, the Netherlands therefore also faces large fines.

Climate experts in the Netherlands "celebrated" the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol on Wednesday with a briefing over climate change at the Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM). It was not immediately clear by the invitation whether champagne would be on offer.
Speaking at the gathering in The Hague, Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel said the protocol's measures should also be applied to the aviation and shipping industries.

He also said the treaty has influenced the general public by the imposition of government subsidies and taxes. He urged households to honour their social responsibilities, news agency Novum reported.

The state secretary also said it was ineffective to continue urging the US to ratify the treaty, claiming it was a better idea to make agreements with individual states, such as California which is already involved in trading regarding pollution emissions.

Combined with other policy programmes, Van Geel said it was still possible to ensure the US partly met the protocol's targets.

The protocol's official coming into play was being observed at a special function in Kyoto on Wednesday, attended by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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