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Switzerland committed to saving Kyoto protocol

Saving the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions could prove to be difficult

(swissinfo.ch)

Switzerland hopes to play a role in saving the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions at next week's climate conference in Bonn. But the Swiss delegation is not very optimistic about its chances, according to its boss, Philippe Roch.

Speaking on Thursday, the director of the federal office for the environment, forests and countryside said the situation was "extremely difficult".

"It is ridiculous to think that Switzerland could alter the positions of the USA and Australia," Roch said. But he added that in conjunction with the European Union and other countries it could bring pressure to bear on the nations blocking implementation of the protocol.

According to Roch, Switzerland views Kyoto as "the only possibility for treating the question of global warming at an international level". The protocol obliges industrialised countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming by an average of five per cent between now and 2012.

Roch said Switzerland's position was that all countries should cut their own emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, but that efforts by industrialised countries to reduce emissions by developing countries should count in their favour.

Switzerland has already said it will cut its emissions and hopes other countries will follow its example.

But it faces a challenge in convincing the US president, George W Bush, who announced earlier this year that he was abandoning the treaty because the mandatory pollution reductions were too harmful to the US economy.

The US accounts for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and its participation is seen as crucial if Kyoto is to have any chance of success.

A key aim of the Bonn conference, which runs from July 16 to 27, is the adoption of a set of rules governing the implementation of the protocol. It comes seven months after another international gathering in The Hague failed to produce any breakthrough on the issue.

swissinfo with agencies


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