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Eu rethinks kyoto treaty

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27 Feb 2004 12:47:08 GMT
EU business urges rethink of Kyoto strategy

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BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - An influential European business lobby added its voice on Friday to calls for the EU to review its stance on the Kyoto Protocol to take account of the fact the key climate change treaty might not come into force.

The UNICE business group said in a letter to the Irish presidency of the EU ahead of an environment ministers meeting next week that the bloc should ask the European Commission to launch a review of climate change policies for 2008-2012.

While urging the EU to redouble efforts to get the protocol ratified so it could come into force, it said the EU's plans for setting emissions reduction targets for the post-2012 period might be premature if Kyoto did not enter into force.

"This review should consider the case of non-ratification by the major economic areas and look at the negative consequences of a continuing unilateral European policy," the letter said.

"The review of the current EU climate-change policies should also be relevant as an alternative to the Kyoto Protocol in case it does not come into force," it added.

The United States, which is the biggest emitter, withdrew from Kyoto in 2000, saying its economy would be hurt.

The focus now is Russia, which can effectively stop Kyoto coming into force after the United States pulled out. Moscow shocked the EU last year by suggesting it might not ratify.

The Commmission found itself forced on Thursday to reconfirm the EU's pledge to implement the treaty, when Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio -- for the second time in two months -- called for the bloc to reconsider its emissions trading scheme if Russia continued its hesitancy over Kyoto.

The Kyoto Protocol seeks to rein in emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burnt in factories and cars that are blamed for blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, raising sea levels and causing natural disasters.

Under Kyoto, the EU must cut its greenhouse gas emissions -- an inevitable result of burning fossil fuels like oil and gas -- by eight percent of 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012.

The EU's planned emissions trading scheme is the centrepiece of the bloc's efforts to meet its Kyoto commitments.

From 2005, many plants in the EU's oil refining, smelting, steel, cement, ceramics, glass and paper sectors will need special permits, or allowances, to emit carbon dioxide.

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