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Friday, December 12, 2003

COP9 in Milan + changes in CO2 emissions since 1990
The 9th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 9) is finishing in Milan after two weeks of talks designed to monitor developments in the science of climate change and permit countries to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which outlines a legal frame work for regulating cuts in greenhouse gases.

The science of climate change is now relatively robust + widely accepted, although it continues to be refined, and the research by the re-insurer Munich Re has calculated that natural disasters, most of them caused by extreme weather, cost the world more than US$60 billion in 2003.

Unfortunately, a Republican US senator is still busily suggesting that climate change is a hoax (on what scientific basis this statement is made is unclear, although it obviously makes good copy) and the Russians are wobbling over whether they will help to trigger agreed international cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, or not.

Despite this meeting failing to live up to its promise, as a result of humanity blinking yet again, this event does offer a good opportunity to recap what the existing situation is, with regard to CO2 emissions by some of major nations...

China has cut its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 17% while its economy has grown by 33%.

The US accounts for 36% of global CO2 emissions, and has increased its CO2 emissions by 16% above 1990 levels despite initially agreeing to cut emissions by 6%.

The 15 nations of the EU have had varying degrees of success in reducing their CO2 emissions, but overall increased their emissions by 1% in 2001.

India's CO2 emissions have increased, from an relatively low level, by 52% since 1990... as a developing country, with a low level of economic development and per capita emissions, India has been offered a period of grace before it will also need to make cuts.

In 2002, Russia said that it would ratify the Kyoto Protocol but it has since vacillated on when exactly and under what circumstances it will actually do so. Due to the collapse in the Russian economy CO2 emissions have dropped by 40% below 2002 levels. Having made these cuts Russia is keen to support emissions trading, but will also want to sell natural gas without being penalised.

In the absence of the US signing up, the participation of Russia is essential if 55 countries responsible for emitting 55% of CO2 are to ratify, and thus activate the Kyoto Protocol.

To date countries accounting for 44% of emissions have ratified, and it is thought Russia may be holding out for a deal which will pay for improved energy efficiency within its aging industrial base.