Many Countries Off-Course for Kyoto:

The Associated Press reports:

With few exceptions, the world's big industrialized nations are struggling to meet the greenhouse gas reductions they committed to in the embattled Kyoto pact on climate change. Europe is veering off course, Japan is still far from its target and Canada has given up. . . .

Among the worst off is Canada, the current president of U.N. climate change talks, which this year became the first country to announce it would not meet its Kyoto target of a 6 percent emissions cut on average over the years 2008-2012. Canada's emissions have ballooned by 29 percent instead. . . .

Japan, too, has a long way to go to meet its reduction. If no additional measures are taken, U.N. forecasts show Japan's emissions will grow by 6 percent, instead of shrink by the same rate as mandated by the treaty.

Aiko Takemoto, an official at the Environment Ministry's climate change division, noted that the bulk of increased emissions came during the 1990s and emissions are forecast to fall. He said the government's Kyoto Achievement Plan implemented last year will help Japan achieve the target rates by 2012. . . .

The European Union, perhaps the biggest champion of the Kyoto pact, is doing better. But even here, the latest statistics are cause for concern.

The EU believes it can meet its target of cutting emissions by 8 percent by 2012, but only with the full implementation of an emissions trading scheme and two big ''ifs.''

First, countries including Germany and France must introduce environmental policies that are currently only in the planning stages. Second, many must make full use of carbon credits for investing in clean technology projects in developing countries.

''It's a whole list of things that need to be achieved to reach the target,'' said Andre Jols of the European Environment Agency. ''Basically all of that has to happen. If it does not, there will be a problem.''

The European Environment Agency said greenhouse emissions increased by 18 million tons, or 0.4 percent, between 2003 and 2004 in the 25-member bloc.

Had the United States ratified the Kyoto Protocol it would likely be in a similar situation. Meeting Kyoto targets would have required energy reductions in the neighborhood of 30 percent from present levels. This fact and the widespread opposition to a Kyoto-style approach to climate change are the reasons Kyoto was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. The United States has not officially "withdrawn" from Kyoto, however (as the U.S. did with the I.C.C.). Instead, the U.S. remains a signatory and an active participant in international climate meetings, just not as a party to the agreement.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration's failure to be more aggressive on climate change continues to provoke the ire of environmentalist groups, even though the Clinton-Gore administration was similarly reticent to adopt substantive policy measures. Reuters reports:

He's set up the world's largest protected marine reserve, raised air pollution standards and pledged to end damaging fishing, but President Bush still draws environmentalists' ire for his stance on global warming.

Ecologically minded critics view Bush's many "green" initiatives as incremental steps -- not the sort of bold action they say is needed to combat global climate change.

Environmentalists say Bush has focused on "safe, second-tier issues" rather than address controversial matters. Again, however, it is interesting that this administration has taken steps (however haltingly) to address the urgent over-fishing problem, whereas its predecessor did nothing meaningful in this regard. There is much to fault in the Bush Administration's environmental record, but also more to credit than environmental activists are willing to acknowledge.

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