Developing Countries Should Stick To Their Guns: Committing to "Voluntary" Emission Reductions Will Threaten Future Pr

Developing Countries Should Stick To Their Guns: Committing to "Voluntary" Emission Reductions Will Threaten Future Pr

November 09, 1998

Buenos Aires, November 10, 1998 – Developing countries are continuing to resist pressure from the industrial powers to limit their energy use under the Kyoto Protocol. Of 97 developing country delegations surveyed in a recent poll, a majority of 62 oppose formal debate over "voluntary [emission limitation] commitments" at COP-4, according to BuenosAyres, the official publication of the UN-sponsored global warming conference.

"That’s very good news," said Marlo Lewis, Jr., Vice President for Policy and Coalitions at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free market think tank observing the conference. "Still better news is that an even larger majority of developing countries refuses to adopt voluntary commitments," said Lewis.

Early in the COP-4 meeting, the G-77 Plus China developing country bloc quashed a proposal, promoted by the United States and Argentina, to debate voluntary commitments. President Clinton is expected to increase pressure on developing country delegates in Buenos Aires by signing the Kyoto Protocol, as early as Wednesday, Nov. 11.

At the Buenos Aires conference, CEI is distributing Kyoto & Our Collective Economic Future, a monograph that explains why implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would harm developing countries, despite the current developing country exemption from emission limits. So-called "voluntary" emission reduction commitments would compound the economic difficulties already faced by underdeveloped economies.

"Voluntary commitments are the slippery slope to ruin," said Lewis. "Developing countries are fully justified in using their voting power to keep dangerous proposals off the agenda."

There is a direct and profound relationship worldwide between per capita electricity consumption and per capita income, according to the CEI paper. To raise their living standards, developing countries must electrify their economies. More than 85 percent of the world’s electricity comes from fossil fuels and 90 percent of all future electricity generation is projected to come from fossil fuels.

"But the primary objective of the Kyoto Protocol is to suppress the use of fossil fuel energy," said Lewis. "Kyoto’s blueprint for restructuring the world economy is incompatible with the needs and aspirations of the world’s developing nations."

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy group based in Washington, DC. For more information, please contact Jim Sheehan at the Lancaster Hotel (Buenos Aires), (54-1) 312-4061 or Jonathan Adler at 1-202-331-1010.