The World can't Wait for Another Climate Treaty



The Worldwatch Institute responds to the Washington Post's March 28, 2001 story: "U.S Aims to Pull Out of Kyoto Pact" [For full story


The U.S. administration's decision to abandon America's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol has created the most serious international environmental policy crisis in years, says President of the Worldwatch Institute, Christopher Flavin. Today's development puts at risk a decade of efforts to craft an agreement to protect the world from climate change.

"The world cannot afford to wait for another climate protocol to be drafted," said Flavin. "The Kyoto Protocol isn't perfect - largely because of loopholes insisted on by the previous U.S. administration - but it's all that's standing between us and a future of more severe storms and rising sea levels. It is time for Europe and Japan to call the U.S. bluff and adopt the Kyoto Protocol, perhaps abandoning some of the problematic elements insisted on by the United States"

The U.S. is a key player in the climate problem, accounting for one-quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions and nearly half of the increase in emissions since 1990, according to the Institute's latest figures. However, the best way to bring the U.S. into the climate treaty process at this point is for other countries to proceed with Kyoto, with the U.S. joining later when political circumstances have changed.

Although President Bush has argued that the Kyoto Protocol could damage the economy, not implementing the treaty would actually be more damaging. Outside the U.S., many countries are moving rapidly to pursue a new generation of 21st century energy technologies such as fuel cells, wind turbines, and solar electric generators. The attempt by the Bush administration to return to reliance on coal, a dirty fuel that is a relic of the 19th century, would be a costly economic mistake. In the end, those countries that address climate change earliest will dominate the massive new energy technology markets of the new century-and create millions of jobs in the process.


Note to journalists: From April 2-11 Christopher Flavin will visit Germany (Berlin), Austria (Vienna) and Spain (Barcelona and Mallorca). For information on press events and interview opportunities, contact Leanne Mitchell (details below).

See the comment by Christopher Flavin on the Kyoto Protocol that appeared in the International Herald Tribune on Monday, 2 April 2001.


Leanne Mitchell, Public Relations Specialist. Email:

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