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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Kyoto Fallout

Air Date: Week of

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GELBSPAN: In withdrawing from the climate talks, President Bush is not only undermining allies, he is also turning his back on a huge burst of jobs and economic growth that would accompany a proper response to the climate crisis.

CURWOOD: Commentator Ross Gelbspan.

GELBSPAN: The President believes the Kyoto Protocol is unfair to the U.S. since it exempts developing countries from the first round of emissions cuts. Ironically, it was Bush's father who approved that exemption in 1992. It was based on the fact that the countries of the North basically created the problem - and have the economic resources to take the first step in addressing it. Bush's action is risking more than the country's diplomatic credibility, however. It is risking our future economic health, as well. A growing number of large corporations - who have saturated domestic markets - now see all their future growth coming from developing countries. If the President does succeed in imposing energy cutbacks in India, China, Mexico and Brazil, we will see massive job losses in companies like Boeing, Gillette, Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, and scores of corporations whose future earnings depend on developing country markets. In the energy sector, virtually all the world's oil majors now acknowledge the reality of global warming - and most are positioning themselves to play prominent roles in a new energy economy. British Petroleum plans on doing $1 billion a year in solar commerce by the end of the decade. Shell is creating a new $500 million company in renewables. Texaco is putting substantial resources in fuel cells. Ford and Daimler-Chrysler are involved in a $1 billion joint venture to produce fuel-cell-powered cars by 2004. At last year's World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the CEOs of the world's 1,000 largest corporations voted climate change the most urgent problem facing humanity today. Their concern was underscored recently when Munich Reinsurance estimated that damages from our increasingly unstable climate will amount to $300 billion a year in the next few decades. If the President were to heed the requirements of a stable climate and spearhead a global transition to efficient and non-carbon energy sources, that effort would create millions of jobs all over the world. It would raise living standards in the poor countries without compromising ours. It would turn impoverished and dependent nations into robust trading partners. And it would make the future much more secure, far wealthier and, ultimately, far more peaceful.

CURWOOD: Commentator Ross Gelbspan is author of "The Heat is On, The High Stakes Battle Over the Earth's Threatened Climate."

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ANNOUNCER: Funding for Living on Earth comes from the World Media Foundation Environmental Information Fund. Major contributors include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, supporting reporting on western issues; the Oak Foundation for coverage of marine issues; and the W. Alton Jones Foundation, promoting new economic approaches to advance environmental protection and human prosperity: www.wajones.org.

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CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. And this is NPR, National Public Radio. When we return: High noon at the regulatory corral: a showdown over the release of a government report on dioxin. Stay tuned to Living on Earth.

(Music up and under: Annie Lennox, "Here Comes The Rain Again")


(Music up and under: Maurice Jarre, "Lawrence of Arabia Theme")

CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood



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