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Kyoto Revitalizes US Climate Bill

09.12.2004
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Kyoto Revitalizes US Climate Bill
NEW YORK - A US Senate bill that would attempt to slow global climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions has a better chance of becoming law now that the Kyoto protocol has been ratified by Russia, one of bill's authors said Monday.

US Senators Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican, wrote the Climate Stewardship Act, which seeks to cut greenhouse emissions and create a carbon dioxide market. It was defeated in the US Senate last fall.

The Kyoto pact will go into effect in February after Russia ratified it this fall. It seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries by 5 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

Since President Bush withdrew from the pact soon after he was elected, saying it was too expensive and wrongly excluded developing nations, Kyoto will create a two-tiered global market that will be expensive for US businesses to contend with, said Lieberman.

"Some of the large business entities, including power generators, will begin for reasons of business efficiency and predictability to press the administration and Congress to do something about climate change," said Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman at a conference here.

The bill lost in 2003 by a vote of 55 to 43, but Lieberman said Monday the bill effectively lost only a vote or two in the US November elections as lawmakers that had voted for the bill were defeated.

Lieberman also said the euro zone's warming emissions cap and trade program that will launch in January of next year will also spur US businesses to pressure the government on carbon legislation.

"They want predictability," he said.

US utility Cinergy, for example, said last week it was voluntarily reducing emissions and believed it would eventually be required to operate in a "carbon constrained world."

At UN climate talks in Buenos Aires Monday, the United States showed no signs of budging in its opposition to the climate pact.

"Efforts to address climate change will only be sustainable if they also serve a larger purpose of fostering prosperity and well-being for citizens around the globe," Harlan Watson, alternate head of the US delegation, told the Buenos Aires conference, known as COP 10.

McCain has been holding hearings in the Senate this fall in part to boost support for the bill, but Lieberman was hesitant to give a time frame for when it might pass. "I hope we can bring that about in our time."


REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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