NEW YORK - The European Union sees "no alternative" to the Kyoto Protocol as an international political instrument to combat climate change and will "intensify" preparations for its ratification, it said Sunday.
The 15-member union noted "with great concern" the US decision not to ratify the 1997 treaty setting a specific timetable to reduce gases thought to contribute to global climate change, but was ready to "do its utmost to help achieve agreement in Bonn" July 16, when a UN climate change meeting resumes.
"We express the firm hope and expectation that the United States would reconsider its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and rejoin the negotiations," the statement from the EU continued, urging other nations to press forward with negotiations.
Representatives from some 40 countries, including 25 environment ministers, met here Saturday for informal talks about the future of the climate change treaty after a decision by President George W. Bush to withdraw the United States from further Kyoto discussions.
In his decision to renounce a commitment to the protocol -- so named for its city of origin and signed in 1998 by former president Bill Clinton -- Bush on March 13 called the climate change treaty "unfair," and judged its application too costly.
As the United States produces 25 percent of the world's total greenhouse gases, it bears the brunt of the burden ascribed to industrialized nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and five other gases by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2010.
Ratifying Kyoto -- with Romania sole among 38 industrialized nations to do so -- will be tough without the United States, as it must include countries representing at least 55 percent of the industrialized world's total CO2 emissions; the United States alone accounts for 36 percent of that output.
A compromise solution floated earlier this month by the head of the UN's climate change conference, Jan Pronk, to create a billion-dollar fund in 2005 to help combat climate change in developing countries and also asks nations to plant forests to soak up CO2 emissions, was deemed partially acceptable by the EU, with some parts requiring modification.
"The Kyoto Protocol is well alive," the statement read. "We have a responsibility towards future generations; science is indisputably convincing; and global issues require a global response."