FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 12, 1998

CONTACT: Cindy Baxter, Friends of the Earth International, 011-541-446-7575 (mobile)
Shannon Wright or Steve Kretzmann , 011-541-413-5079 (mobile) or 011-541-806-1037

Secret document exposes the real reasons behind U.S. COP4 objectives

BUENOS AIRES -- Confidential documents from a U.S. business association reveal that the U.S. objective in the Climate Convention exclusively benefits the U.S. at the expense of developing countries. Knowing this, U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart E. Eizenstat announced to the world's nations gathered at the UN Convention on Climate Change today that although President Clinton signed the Protocol today, he will not submit it to Congress for ratification until developing countries accede to U.S. demands.

The U.S. has steadfastly asserted that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is dependent on commitments by developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. A Business Roundtable document found today reveals the corporate agenda behind this U.S. demand. According to this document faxed Tuesday to top Administration and Congressional officials in Buenos Aires and Washington "developing countries must assume binding obligations in the same compliance period as Annex I countries to avoid...significant damage to U.S. trade and ompetitiveness."

The document concedes that European industry is more efficient than US industry, and argues that the only way for US business to maintain its competitive edge is to ensure developing country commitments and allow unrestricted global trading in emissions.

The document defends the two top U.S. priorities in Buenos Aires - use of unlimited emissions trading and full developing country participation - as ways that would allow the U.S. to meet "80-90% of its required annual emission reductions" through the purchase of emission permits instead of domestic action. Environmentalists have long criticized unrestricted emissions trading as a way for the U.S. to avoid taking any domestic action to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases while dumping additional pollution on Southern nations. The U.S. is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the document admits that "participation in full global trading actually puts developing countries at a competitive disadvantage" and admits that gaining their participation will not be easy.

"The Business Roundtable is a big business mafia effectively driving the U.S. government policy to suit their narrow corporate interests and away from obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions," explained Shannon Wright of Rainforest Action Network. The U.S.-based Business Roundtable is made up of many of the nation's most powerful corporations particularly oil and automobile companies which are benefitting from the country's increasing use of petroleum. In 1996 alone the BRT handed out $11 million to Democrats and in the last two years has funneled $57 into congressional election campaigns.

"The US continues to protect the oil industry instead of the climate," said Steve Kretzmann of Project Underground. "Until the U.S. finds the courage to face down the oil lobby, begins the process of reducing domestic consumption of fossil fuels, and stops trying to dump on developing countries, we won't see any progress in these talks. You can't solve climate change without placing restrictions on the source of the problem fossil fuel use."

"The U.S. is seeking to blackmail developing countries by holding up ratification of the Kyoto Protocol until they assume binding emission reductions," explained Cindy Baxter of Friends of the Earth. "They do this to protect their corporate sponsors, particularly the powerful oil lobby, and not the climate as they claim."

For a copy of the Business Roundtable document contact Friends of the Earth at 011-541-446-7575 OR Mark Westlund at Rainforest Action Network - 415-398-4404

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