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Scientists say Kyoto protocol is 'outdated failure'

Steve Connor
Thursday 25 October 2007 00:00 BST

The international effort to curb man-made emissions of greenhouse gases – as enshrined in the Kyoto protocol – is a miserable failure that needs to be swept away and replaced, according to a new report.

Climate policy after 2012, when the Kyoto agreement comes to an end, will disintegrate unless the principles behind the present treaty are overhauled and a new approach is taken, says the study, published in the journal Nature.

"The Kyoto protocol... as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, has failed," it says. "It has produced no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth."

Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, and Steve Rayner, of Oxford University, criticise Kyoto for being the wrong tool for controlling emissions.

Too often, they say, its failure is blamed on the US and Australia for not signing up to it. They argue that the protocol was misconceived from the start because it was based on previous international treaties to protect the ozone layer, to stop acid rain and to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"This borrowing simply failed to accommodate the complexity of the climate-change issue," they say. "Kyoto has failed... also because it has stifled discussion of alternative policy approaches."

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