Washington, 24 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - A group representing U.S.
businesses is accusing the Clinton administration of rushing too
quickly to sign an international agreement limiting the emissions of
gases which are believed to be contributing to a greenhouse effect on
The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) says the United States appears ready to agree to strict limitations on the emissions without knowing its ramifications. At a news conference in Washington Thursday, John
Shlaes, the exective director of the GCC, said such limitations could
result in significant job losses as well as much higher energy costs
in the United States.
He called on the Clinton administration to fully explain the costs
to the American people before signing an agreement.
On Tuesday the United States released its draft proposal for an
international treaty to limit emissions which contribute to the
greenhouse effect and global warming. The complex proposal would
require developed countries to set a budget for emissions. The
countries would be required to reduce those emissions over a period
of years, according to specific targets and timetables.
Under the U.S. proposal, countries which reduce emissions faster
than required could trade their credits with countries that lag
The United States wants the United Nations to monitor the emissions in all member countries. The U.N. would have the power to penalize countries who do not abide by the treaty requirements.
More than 160 countries are now parties to the U.N. Framework
Convention on Climate Change. From that convention, member countries
agreed to begin negotiations on a new, legally-enforcable, treaty to
deal with the threat of climate change in the post 2000 period. The
new treaty is scheduled to be adopted at the convention's third
meeting, which will be held in December in Kyoto, Japan.
The convention's subcommittee is now in the process of drafting the
legal text of that treaty. It hopes more than 150 countries will
agree to abide by the treaty. The subcommittee will next meet in
Bonn, in March. After that, two more meetings are scheduled to
finalize the text.
The U.S. submission represents the latest U.S. contribution ot the
international negotiating effort.
Under the U.S. proposal, developing countries would be exempt from
abiding by the requirements in the medium term (2010 to 2020). Shlaes
said under the U.S. plan, central and eastern European countries as
well as Russia would be considered developed nations who would have
to abide by the requirements when they take effect.
The United States says it will be critical to include developing countries in the next steps because finding a solution to the climate change problems will require a concerted global effort.
On Tuesday, British meteorologists said the Earth remained much
warmer on average last year. They said worldwide measurements showed
surface temperature of the Earth was about two-tenths of a degree
above the average, from 1961 to 1990.
Britain's Meteorological Office said in a statement: "1996 remains
consistent with the warming trend, which began in the mid-1970s."
Some scientists believe the increasing emissions of carbon-based
gases, which come from a growing number of cars as well as
industries, are to blame for the warming of the planet.
Climatologists say global warming does not mean consistently hotter
temperatures the world over. But the general warming can cause more
instability in the climate, which may result in severe storms,
droughts and freezes.
Shlaes said the proposal set out by the United States has an
unrealistic time-table, however.
He said the United States should study the issue extensively, as well as the accompanying costs, before committing itself to any targets. He said there is plenty of time available to study the issues.
Shlaes also questioned the U.S.'s willingness to let the United
Nations monitor emission rates and impose penalties. "Will this
change the way we do business in the United States?" he asked. He
said the active U.N. involvement is a very new question which needs
review and public debate.
"Each nation should take steps and measures it is comfortable with,"
He also questioned whether it will be possible to get such a
multi-national agreement on the text of the treaty. Shlaes pointed
out that Australia has drafted its own version of the text, very much
different from the U.S. model. Poland and Germany also have their
He said each country seems interested in protecting its own economy
from undue U.N. restrictions.
"That's just natural," he said.