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Daily Archives: December 12, 2007

Kyoto’s 10th birthday marred by problems in forging new pact

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by Richard Ingham*The worldwide forum on climate change marked the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol yesterday but the celebrations were shadowed by doubts on a new pact to tackle global warming. A giant birthday cake was unveiled on the sidelines of the talks in Bali to commemorate December 11, 1997 when the world's most ambitious environment treaty was born in the eponymous Japanese city.Two parties were to be staged in the evening, one by Japanese green groups and the other by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).The Kyoto Protocol took effect on February 16, 2005 after gruelling negotiations to complete its rulebook on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.But, in its present form, it will not do enough to stem the surge in pollution, which scientists say is badly damaging the Earth's climate system.Worse droughts and floods, rising sea levels and more violent storms lie just decades away, they warn.The conference of 190 countries is seeking a "Bali Roadmap" to set the parameters for further negotiations leading to a new accord to accelerate cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions after 2012, when the protocol's current roster of pledges runs out.European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said just three days remain for ensuring that a new pact "is sufficiently ambitious to tackle the climate challenge we face.""I believe that this conference is on track to deliver good results, but the next three days will be decisive and I have no doubt that there will be some difficult discussions," he said.Talks on the Bali Roadmap are struggling on key questions on how extensive the post-2012 negotiation mandate should be and whether the negotiations should be set a two-year deadline for conclusion.A previous commitment by Kyoto's industrialised countries, sketching their "ambition" to reduce their own carbon emissions by between 25 and 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, was weeded out in a new version of the text, according to green groups.Similar text was under threat in a second document, this time from a group that includes the United States, Japan and Canada which argued that such figures would prejudge the negotiations for the post-2012 accord.But Green activists warned against changes that would turn the much-vaunted roadmap into a directionless fudge."Ministers cannot leave Bali without an ambitious mandate. People won't buy it," said WWF's Hans Verolme.The 25-40 percent figure holds major resonance, as it chimes with an estimate by the UN's Nobel-winning scientific panel for limiting warming to around two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.UNFCCC Executive Director Yvo de Boer, however, stressed that the figure had never been enshrined as a target for rich countries and was more of a guideline, adding that the Bali conference should be used to launch a negotiation process.These and other thorny details are expected to be shunted over to environment ministers, whose meeting from Wednesday to Friday will end the conference.Late Monday, the talks notched up their first significant success with a decision on how to administer a fund to bolster the defences of poor countries that lack the money, technology and skills to cope with climate change.It will be financed by a levy of two percent on transactions under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a piece of Kyoto machinery by which rich countries get carbon credits. They can offset these credits against their emissions targets, provided they invest in clean-energy projects in poor countries.The Bali talks are taking place against a backdrop of dark scientific warnings about climate change and growing public and political awareness.The issue's profile has grow rapidly this year, capped by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday to climate campaigner Al Gore and the UN's paramount scientific body on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

* AFP

Russian multinationals expanding abroad

Russia's 25 most multinational companies have more than doubled their foreign assets, sales and number of employees abroad since 2004, according to a survey published yesterday.The study compiled by the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management and Columbia University in New York found that the top 25 companies owned assets worth 59 billion dollars (40 billion euros) outside of Russia.The ranking of Russian multinationals was headed up by oil major Lukoil, followed by state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom, steel giant Severstal, metals holding Rusal and transport company Sovcomflot.The main sectors on the list were energy, metals and mining.The study also found that Russia's top 25 multinational companies had around 200 billion dollars in foreign sales every year, including exports, and employ 130,000 people abroad.The companies' foreign sales and employment have more than doubled since 2004 and their aggregate foreign assets have grown 2.5 times in the same period, the study said.The growth was far ahead of the world's 25 leading multinationals.

"This means that Russian global players are catching up with international competitors quickly" but "Russian multinationals have yet to outgrow their foreign counterparts," the report said.

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