A long list of formidable obstacles against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol are leading many in America to speculate that the agreement will not succeed. Those who still hold out hope are looking to Europe for encouraging signs of real political and industrial commitment to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Grist magazine, published by America’s Earth Day Network has published a debate on the future prospects of Kyoto. Arguing that Kyoto is dead is David Victor from the Council on Foreign Relations. Victor believes that “in most of the American economy, only trivial efforts have been attempted” and that “in Europe, there is much talk about implementing Kyoto but still little action”. His conclusion is that lack of political will and business support in America is the kiss of death for Kyoto: “As the treaty collapses in America, so it will unzip elsewhere”.

Meanwhile, Dan Lashof, from the National Resources Defense Council, argues that support for Kyoto is strengthening. “When people look back from the end of the century we are just beginning, they may well see the Kyoto Protocol as the turning point when humanity began reversing the damage it had done to the environment,” writes Lashof. He points to Ford and DamilerCrysler deciding to leave the anti-Kyoto pressure group Global Climate Coalition (see related story) as an example of how “industry opposition to Kyoto is fracturing”.

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