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EU Slams US Kyoto-Light Proposal

February 21, 2002

President George W. Bush’s proposals to curb green house gases have already been dubbed "Kyoto-Light". The European Union says the plan amounts to little more than "business as usual".

"Business as usual"Image: AP

US President George W. Bush last week outlined a voluntary plan on "greenhouse gases". Instead of the mandatory cuts demanded in the Kyoto treaty, Bush has gone for voluntary reductions tied to US economic growth and giving firms incentives to meet targets for reducing emissions.

Corporations will not be obliged to meet those targets, nor will they have to disclose what progress they make to a central emissions registry, in which participation will also be voluntary.

Because the United States is by far the world's biggest polluter, generating roughly a quarter of the globe's man-made "greenhouse gases", the EU has said Bush’s plan amounts to too little too late.

EU officials said current emission projections for the United States pointed to an increase of 39 percent above 1990 levels in 2012.

While the Bush proposals may reduce this to around 33 percent, this was still a very substantial increase in absolute emissions, they said.

However, the EU welcomed that the Bush administration had put forward proposals on domestic climate change policy.

It said the proposals may represent a first step in the right direction by asking US businesses to contribute to emission control.

At the same time, the EU said it was determined to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by June 2002.

"The EU will continue on its current path of emission reduction and is optimistic that other major players, notably Japan and Russia, will join us in these efforts," the EU said.

It said it was willing to continue dialogue with the United States on the issue.

Several other developed nations have also slammed the US leader's rejection of Kyoto - and his alternative - even Britain, often America's staunchest ally.

The 1997 Kyoto treaty set a target for it to reduce emissions by about seven percent below 1990 levels in 10 years.

Although Bush pulled out of the treaty last year, America remains formally committed to the 1990 climate change convention which his father signed up to at the Rio "Earth Summit".

That convention commits developed countries to try to stabilise their greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels.

US emissions are already around 13 percent higher than then.