The international effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions – as currently enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol – is a miserable “failure” that needs to be replaced, according to a study in the journal Nature.

“The Kyoto protocol… as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, has failed,” it says. “It has produced no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth.”

Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, and Steve Rayner, of Oxford University, criticise Kyoto for being the wrong tool for controlling emissions.

Too often, they say, its failure is blamed on the US and Australia for not signing up to it. They argue that the protocol was misconceived from the start because it was based on previous international treaties to protect the ozone layer, to stop acid rain and to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“This borrowing simply failed to accommodate the complexity of the climate-change issue,” they say. “Kyoto has failed… also because it has stifled discussion of alternative policy approaches.”

One Comment

  • This is remarkably uncritical for you to just reproduce. And the Nature article itself is, to put it midly, unhelpful.

    These “scientists” have been Kyoto sceptics for a long time. Read this, from Rayner in 2004, and you may wonder if he is just a Kyoto sceptic. Is this the kind of ‘scientist’ you really want to take your cue from?

    “To date, the goals of climate policy have, somewhat arbitrarily, focused on preventing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from rising above 450 to 650 ppm of carbon dioxide equivalent or alternatively above levels that would force a global average temperature increase of 2 degrees C. However, there is no strong scientific basis for choosing these particular thresholds. They are certainly not ones associated with any specific sudden dramatic event, such as shutdown of North Atlantic thermohaline circulation or detachment of polar ice sheets. Science cannot, even in principle, provide policy makers with any credible, consistent targets upon which permit allocations, or other policy thresholds can be based. We don’t even really know what the actual consequences of carbon stabilization at a given level would be for climate behaviour.”

    This man is basically saying: Who cares about the IPCC …

    Kyoto for sure ain’t perfect. But to attack it in a self-motivated and unhelpful way as Rayner and Prins do, is unacceptable 5 weeks before governments need to make steps forward at the next round of Kyoto negotiations.

Comments are closed.