Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Environmental Trust Releases "Taking Responsibility" Climate Report

Dec 3: Many individual states release more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than entire groups of developing countries. Forty-two U.S. states individually emit more carbon dioxide than 50 developing countries combined, and three states individually emit more CO2 than 100 developing countries. Taking Responsibility, a new report by the National Environmental Trust (NET), examines the greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. states as compared to developing countries and underscores the moral necessity for the United States to assume global leadership in ongoing efforts to craft a new post-Kyoto global climate treaty. Featuring a state by state profile of GHG emissions, the report also examines individual and collective efforts by U.S. states to reduce GHG emissions.

The report points out that the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), applying the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” specific ed that developed nations should be obligated to make greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions before less-polluting developing nations. Fairness decreed that developed countries -- responsible for the vast majority of historic emissions -- should have the responsibility for developing the technological solutions needed to reduce them.

Developing nations would thus have time to grow their economies, putting them in a better position to more quickly apply the technological solutions devised in the interim. This principle was upheld by the United States Senate, which ratified the 1992 UNFCCC, and has been a cornerstone of subsequent international agreements on climate change. The report says, "Unfortunately, some developed countries have begun arguing that 'differentiated responsibilities' no longer apply due to the rapid emissions increases by developing countries. They contend that binding emissions reduction goals must be undertaken by developed and developing countries alike. This argument may jeopardize efforts to create a framework for a new international agreement to stabilize the climate after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012."

As world leaders begin working on a new treaty for reducing greenhouse gases, the "report aims to provide perspective on who bears first responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also examines commitments made by developed and developing nations, and individual U.S. states, to reduce emissions."

Access a brief announcement of the report (
click here). Access the complete 99-page report (click here). [*Climate]