Critical Evaluation of U.S. Rejection of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol

Climate change has been acknowledged a global environmental problem therefore calling for a global solution. The adverse effects on the environment that result from greenhouse gases, especially CO2 being concentrated in the atmosphere, have appeared to be obvious to human beings thus prompting for action by governments all over the world. One of the most notable international policies proposed in the fight against climate change has been the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement that sets the restrictions for the industrialized countries endorsing them to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by specific percentages. The United States government rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol chiefly because it exempted developing countries, including India and China, from the binding targets imposed on developed nations. This statement reveals a disputable situation between the developed and the developing countries. The paper shall demonstrate this by showing that the CO2 emissions by developing countries do not constitute a sizable amount. The myth that industrial cuts are the only way to deal with the problem shall be reviewed, as well.

Experts on climate agree that there is a need to mitigate climatic change to ensure that the adverse effects of climatic change do not become a reality. While there is no single solution to deal with this problem, one of the most effective means to achieve this is the taking of measures to diminish green house gases by lowering the consumption of fossil fuels. Hence, there exist different approaches for improving the current situation in the third world countries. It is false to think that the Asian region is not engaged into the fight against the environment pollution, which especially concerns Southeast Asia and China. The concerns expressed by these regions are quite justified, as numerous companies located there do not feel responsibility for the environmental pollution thus thinking “that rapid industrial growth, government decentralization and unbridled consumerism make the truth path to economic enlightenment” (Levin 2002 p. 34). The creation of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Union, Thailand’s Project for Ecological Recovery and China’s South Institute for Suitable Development considerably fostered the increase of natural awareness (Levin 2002 p. 34). The strategies chosen by these organizations were aimed at reducing the oil-pipelines and petro-chemical emission. As it can be viewed, though Kyoto Protocol failed to engage the developing countries into the programs, still, there exist the third world eco-activists who deal with the problem of GHG emissions. The Asian organizations rejecting globalization as the man underpinning for the increase of fuel and chemical emission proved that social progress in the developing world would be beneficial for the entire climate situation (Anderson 2009 p. 49). In particular, there is a growing necessity to focus on “equal” globalization and social development for mitigating the effects of global warming; it is also important to observe the ecological rights for both the developed and developing countries.

In accordance with Kyoto Protocol, there were some restrictions imposed on the industrialized countries in order to hamper the process of global warming. The GHG emissions cause the ozone layer reduction and penetration of radioactive sunrays to the Earth atmosphere. The outright protest of the United States is rather justifiable, as the countries of the third world also represent the industrial threat to the nature. For instance, the Beijing and Hong Kong district have a densely industrialized structure. The industries situated there have a significance influence on the neighboring areas (Levin 2002, p. 36). The statistical analysis of consequences of greenhouse effect is explained by a constant need of energy, the greatest part of which is consumed by the developing countries. Hence, the energy demand of those countries is to be scaled up thus getting the environmental changes for the worth. This is explained by the fact that coal-fired electricity, which is popular in the developing countries, gives rise to double carbon dioxide emission (Anon., p. 6). Therefore, the US aspiration to involve the countries of the third world into Kyoto Protocol ratification is approved by the above facts. Certainly, the growing need for energy is observed equally in countries with different economic status. Still, in case the world is eager to achieve the results, Kyoto Protocol should spread over the developing countries, as well. At the international market, where competition is rife, these restrictions would make the developed countries lose out to the developing countries such as China whose industries continue to enjoy low production costs. The politization of the climate change problem is likely to have certain advantages, especially for the technologically advanced countries, as they have a better image of natural environment (Howard 2009, p. 24). Thus, to present a fair competition for all the parties, it is necessary to introduce the equal conditions for the accomplishment of the environmental programs.

Proponents of the Kyoto protocol are adamant in their stand that industrial pollutants are responsible for the climatic havoc that is experienced. Their proposed solution is a reduction in emissions by the industries in accordance with the Kyoto policies. While there is truth in these assertions, the proponents fail to consider that there are many other means to curtail GHG emissions. The Kyoto Protocol’s overemphasis on industries as the major cause of pollution is the reason why the developing countries are omitted from the bid to alleviate the condition, as they are deemed to be minor players in the industrial field. The USA is the leading industrial power in the country so that proponents view the failure by the US to endorse the Kyoto protocol as a blow to the efforts of mitigating climate change. The situation is aggravated by the fact that Australia, “the world biggest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases”, ratified Kyoto protocol 2007 (Diesendorf, 2008, p. 2) This event take the US and Canada under the pressure thus diverting the attention to undeveloped countries. On the other hand, the adoption of the agreement could be regarded as a solid pre-condition for India and China to be involved into Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto protocol fails to take into account that citizens of developing countries can indulge in searching optimal solutions to GHG emission problem. However, it would be false to deny the fact that the industrials field of the United States has little influence on the environment (Glikson n.d., p. 2) Kyoto should have considered developing nations since they make up a big percentage of the entire world’s population and so their actions may greatly influence climate. As such, the US was justified in taking against the protocol since the developing countries would not only continue further harming the environment but they would be rewarded for it.

Was the United States rejection of the Kyoto protocol in 1997 justifiable? From this arguments presented in this paper, it can be seen that the major benefactors of the Kyoto Protocol were not the environment but rather the developing countries who would be exempt from the restrictions and obligations imposed by the protocol. While it has been agreed that fossil fuels are some of the major culprits resulting in GHG emission, measures to limit the use of the same should be adopted by all nations to ensure that no nations acquire an unfair advantage over the others. National strategies should also include the inputs of individuals who can greatly help to reduce the energy consumption levels by their lifestyle choices. For the protocol to be effective in achieving its noble goals, it should incorporate all the nations of the world since global warming is a worldwide phenomenon and the harm that may arise because of further degradation affecting all nations.


Anderson, C., 2009. ‘Saving the Environment: Five Creative Approaches’, The Futurist, pp. 48-51.

Dissendorf, M., 2008. ‘Myths, Fallancies and ‘Spin’ about Greenhouse solutions’ Energy Science Briefing Paper 21(3) pp.1-3.

Glikson, A. A Response to the “Great Global Warming Swindle”. Australian and National University. 

Howard, R., 2009. ‘The Politics of Climate Change’, The Futurist, pp. 24-27.

Levin, M. 2002. ‘Asia eco-guerrillas’. New Internationalist. pp. 34-35.

Uranium, Electricity, and the Greenhouse Effect.