Letter to the Editor: EU talk no match for US action on emissions

Sir, Your editorial “A big step forward on climate change” (June 9) uncharacteristically falls into the typical chattering class mistake of thinking that words are more important than reality. But asJoseph Conrad correctly observedin Under Western Eyes, “words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality”.

You assert that the Group of Eight communiqué on global warming is a big step forward because the US has agreed to continue to negotiate an international agreement to follow on from the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2013, and to consider the European Union's call to cut emissions by half below 1990 levels by 2050. Then you warn that much difficult talk lies ahead to reach an agreement.

Isn't the real difficulty rather that the Kyoto process is all words and little action? The nations that have agreed to cut their emissions are incurring significant costs but are not cutting their emissions, although they do continue to talk incessantly about doing so. Since Kyoto was negotiated in 1997, emissions have increased in every one of the EU-15 nations, despite all the talk. In fact, EU-15 emissions have been rising faster in percentage terms than in the US, where emissions have been going up about one point for every three points of economic growth.

If the EU were serious about global warming, it should first at least match the US's performance.