This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 05, 2002

EU, Japan Ratify Kyoto Protocol; United States Still Opposed

The European Union (EU) and Japan both ratified the Kyoto Protocol in recent days, increasing the likelihood that the global warming agreement will take effect. The United States has no intention of ratifying the treaty, which must be ratified by 55 countries representing 55 percent of developed nations' greenhouse gas emissions before taking effect. At present, 74 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but the developed countries among them produce only 36 percent of developed nations' greenhouse gas emissions. See the United Nation's "Kyoto Protocol Thermometer".

The EU ratified the agreement on May 31st, committing to an 8 percent reduction in its emissions of greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels. The reduction must be achieved within the timeframe of 2008 to 2012. To help meet that goal, the EU plans to implement a union-wide emissions trading scheme by 2005. See the announcement from the Spanish Presidency of the EU.

Japan followed suit by ratifying the agreement yesterday. According to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Japan plans to "foster technological innovation and creative initiatives in the business circles so that efforts to meet the commitment under the Kyoto Protocol will lead to economic revitalization and employment creation."

Acknowledging U.S. reluctance to participate in the treaty, the Prime Minister noted that "the Government of Japan will do its utmost to establish a common rule, in which all countries including the United States and the developing countries participate." See the Prime Minister's statement.

Asked yesterday if the United States would change its stance on the treaty, President Bush held firm against it. "I do not support the Kyoto treaty," said Bush. "The Kyoto treaty would severely damage the United States economy, and I don't accept that. I accept the alternative we put out, that we can grow our economy and, at the same time, through technologies, improve our environment." See the President's remarks.

The question was prompted in part by a report issued last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Climate Action Report 2002, which is an official report to the United Nations, acknowledges that global temperature increases are "likely due mostly to human activities" and notes such impacts as loss of coastal wetlands, reduced snowpack (which exacerbates water shortages, particularly in the West), and more frequent heat waves, all of which have impacts on ecosystems. The report also notes President Bush's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent over the next decade. See the EPA report.

DOE took a step toward those reductions in early May, when it requested public comments on ways to improve its voluntary reporting program for greenhouse gas emissions. See the DOE press release.