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Seek global climate pact

President Bush's decision not to implement the climate treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan is not a death knell to the global environment. Rather, it's an acknowledgement that the Kyoto accord is a lopsided arrangement that exempts developing nations, where most growth in emissions will take place. This includes China, which is expected to become the biggest carbon producer on the planet.

It's also a recognition that the pact is a political no-starter. Earlier, the Senate voted 95-0 against the United States taking any action on climate change unless developing countries also take some measures to reduce heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases, which are mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. The United States would be required to cut emissions about a third by 2012.

Beyond that, only one of the 55 nations whose approval is required to put the treaty in effect — Romania — had so far acted to comply with the pact. This suggests other nations have concerns about the pact as well.

Despite the doom-and-gloom prognostications of some Democratic leaders and environmentalists, Bush isn't scrapping the concept altogether. Bush is seeking an alternative that would "include the world" in the effort to reduce pollution.

Under the Kyoto pact, major industrialized nations' emissions would be cut by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Some research says greenhouse gas emissions — which result mostly from burning coal and oil — trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming which can cause disastrous weather changes.

To hear the Clinton administration tell it, the science surrounding the global warming phenomenon was a settled matter. Yet, many distinguished scientists have argued against precipitous action in this arena. There should, indeed, be a review of the latest scientific, economic and political implications of any climate agreement.

In a new administration, it is the president's prerogative, if not his duty, to review agreements struck by his predecessor. There needs to be global cooperation to address environmental issues worldwide. But like the Bush administration, this page believes the Kyoto accord is a flawed means to achieve that end.