WASHINGTON, DC -- World Wildlife Fund praised the United States' announcement today that it would sign the Kyoto climate treaty at the United Nations in New York, as world governments meeting in Argentina worked to conclude a ten-day conference aimed at slowing global warming.
"U.S. participation in the global warming treaty is nothing short of essential" said Richard Mott, vice president of World Wildlife Fund. "As the world's leading source of greenhouse gases, it is welcome news that the U.S. will join all other industrialized countries in curbing emissions."
U.S. signature was announced this morning in Argentina by chief U.S. climate negotiator Stuart Eizenstat. Signature to the agreement, drafted eleven months ago in Kyoto, will commit the U.S. to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases by seven percent by the year 2010. Every other industrialized country except Iceland has signed the agreement.
In addition to stating that the U.S. will sign the treaty, Eizenstat announced a package of domestic measures aimed at curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. They include measures to restructure the utility industry to promote cleaner use of energy; energy efficiency standards for electrical appliances, housing and possibly cars; and changes in federal procurement policies. Each of the proposed measures can be implemented by the Administration using existing legislative authority and without need for separate Congressional approval.
The same cannot be said for full legal participation under the climate treaty.
"The path to full U.S. participation in the treaty does not conclude with signature," added Mott. "The U.S. Senate must also ratify the agreement by a two-thirds majority vote, an outcome clearly in accord with American public opinion."
The prospect of ratification is far from assured, as industry groups opposed to the treaty have mounted a massive lobbying and ad campaign aimed at discouraging congressional approval. Despite the industry ads, however, public support for the treaty over the last eleven months appears to be increasing markedly. A World Wildlife Fund nationwide poll conducted last month showed broad bipartisan support for U.S. participation, running at 79% of the general public.