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The Kyoto Protocol Essay

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This paper examines the Kyoto Protocol and the United States position on their participation in the Kyoto Protocol. To understand the underpinnings of the Kyoto Protocol one must agree that our planet is warming, and we (its citizens) are contributing to its warming. Any general argument about global warming has to address at least the following five questions:
1. Is global warming really occurring?
2. If global warming is occurring, are humans responsible for it?
3. If global warming is occurring, what will the consequences be for life on earth?
4. If human action is contributing to global warming and the consequences are likely to be negative, what can be done and what are the social, political and economic consequences of alternative courses of action?
5. If it is decide that some form of collective action is needed to counter global warming and that action involves sacrifices, how should these sacrifices be distributed among the various countries of the world? (Wesley & Peterson, 1999, p. 167)
“The arguments are the subject of intense scientific and political debate. Highly qualified scientists have argued that observed climate patterns are within the bounds of normal statistical variation” (Wesley & Peterson, 1999, p. 168). Many believe that the efforts to prevent global warming require potentially painful actions in order to avoid negative consequences that are uncertain and distant in time (Wesley & Peterson, 1999
Kyoto Protocol Defined
The Kyoto Protocol is a treaty agreement considered the first real step toward resolving the global warming crisis. Gardiner (2004) explains that the Kyoto Protocol is best understood in light of its history, which began with the Earth Summit of 1992. The Earth Summit was a meeting ...


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Initially, U.S. business attitudes toward climate change mitigation were mixed. Business opposition to the treaty came under the auspicious of the Global Climate Coalition (1989-1992). The Global Climate Coalition is an association of large energy, automobile, and manufacturing firms opposed to greenhouse gas reduction (Falke, 2011). This group was led by ExxonMobil, and other industry giants; this coalition is currently deactivated. Industry voices resonated strongly in Congress and in 1997 the U.S. Senate passed the (non-binding) Byrd-Hagel-Resolution, that stated the Senate should not ratify any international climate agreement which would impose major economic costs on the U.S. (Falke, 2011). “Concerted business and congressional opposition finally induced President Clinton not to submit the Kyoto Protocol for Senate ratification” (Falke, 2011, p. 26).



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