US to unveil its Kyoto alternative soon

Details of the much-rumoured US alternative strategy to the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be released next week, based on containing greenhouse gas emissions rather than cutting them.

Minimising the potential impact on industry is likely to be a major element of the US approach, according to sources close to government, which report that limiting total gas emissions has been ruled out as presenting unreasonable cost burdens on industry. More of a gradual reduction of emissions is expected to be the US’s preferred route, most likely restricting increases in gases in relation to the GDP growth rate, or linking incremental cuts in emissions to GDP.

Also, sources report that while reduction targets for greenhouse gases will be set for the long-term across industry and the power generators, the actual cuts are likely to be left to the discretion of the companies.

The US strategy is likely to have far less strict reductions in emissions compared with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which would have required that the US cut gases by 7% in the 2008-2012 period from the 1990 level. Under the predicted proposals linked to the growth of the US economy, total emissions can be expected to grow hand in hand with economic development.

However, even the Kyoto Protocol has been widely criticised for not being sufficiently demanding of its signatory countries, with one UK report published last year stating that greenhouse emission cuts of 60% would be required in order to stabilise climate change trends (see related story).

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