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With the Sixth Conference of the Parties due to begin on the 13th of November in The Hague, Weather Eye takes the opportunity to express its frustration, indeed disgust, at the continued inability of many industrialized nations to honour their commitments.

Article 4.2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change obliges industrialized nations to demonstrate that they are “taking the lead” in controlling emissions, with stabilization of emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000 proposed as an appropriate test of commitment.

A recent report by Michael Jefferson, Global Energy and Environmental Consultants (UK), has presented an analysis of carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 1999 based on fossil fuel combustion.

The first dismaying figure in the report is that, globally, carbon dioxide emissions rose 7.6 per cent between 1990 and 1999. The 21 industrialized nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development saw a rise in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion of 10.8 per cent over that period.

Hoping that there might be some positive news in the report, Weather Eye read on. Oh dear, the listing of emissions performance got decidedly more depressing. The United States increased its carbon dioxide emissions by 12.7 per cent. Canada’s emissions rose by 12.4 per cent. Australia’s emissions rose by 15.4 per cent. Japan’s emissions rose by 13.6 per cent.

All of these upward trends in emissions were taking place at the same time as the official representatives from these nations were negotiating on how to strengthen the original commitment of stabilization.

There was a small degree of hope. Over the European Union as a whole, emissions only rose by 0.4 per cent during the 1990s, with marked increases in some nations and decreases in others. Some nations had actually reduced their emissions over this decade!

Weather Eye wonders if perhaps the dismal lack of progress is due, in part, to confusion and misunderstanding. Could it be that there have been some delegates, all these years, attending the conferences under the illusion that the letter F in UNFCCC stands for Farcical?

Perhaps southern nations shouldn’t be too concerned about accepting controls on their own emissions as it is clear that there are not too many who take the climate treaty commitments seriously.

On the Web

Michael Jefferson’s report is summarized in the September 2000 issue of Ecoal.

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