Kyoto Protocol finally comes into force

After years of delays, a world plan to fight global warming came into force on Wednesday, feted by its backers as a lifeline for the planet but rejected as an economic straitjacket by the US and &to=http://' target=_blank>Australia.

The &to=http://' target=_blank>Kyoto Protocol formally took effect at 0500 GMT. A ceremony in Kyoto, where the pact was signed in 1997, is set to begin at 0930 GMT and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, recipient of the ’04 Nobel Peace Prize, will give a keynote address.

&to=http://' target=_blank>Green groups and the UN say the 141-nation pact is a first step in trying to limit the onslaught of higher temperatures, rising seas and greater extremes of weather, reports Economic Times.

According to the New Zealand Herald, if the largest emitter, the US, and the fastest growing, China, refuse to lift a finger on this issue, that degree of free-riding will make it hard, if not impossible, to enlarge the reach and deepen the impact of Kyoto beyond 2012. There may not even be a second commitment period. But there is a bigger free rider problem here.

The environmental costs of greenhouse gas emissions by and large do not fall on those who are responsible for them. They are diffused over the whole planet and will vary from place to place.

And there is a lot of inertia in the system, making for very long lags between changes in what we do to the atmosphere and changes in what the climate does back.

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