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Switzerland joins criticism of United States over Kyoto climbdown

The international community met in Kyoto in 1997 to agree a framework on reducing greenhouse gas emissions

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, has joined other countries in expressing his disapproval of the United States' rejection of the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

During bilateral talks in Geneva with the French president, Jacques Chirac, Leuenberger said he was "very disappointed with the decision taken by the United States" and guaranteed that Switzerland would honour the agreement signed in Japan in 1997.

"The climate protocol is connected with the issue of human rights," Leuenberger said after this meeting. "If the world suffers more from global warming, many people, for example in Bangladesh, will be forced to emigrate."

In an interview with swissinfo, Switzerland's environment ambassador, Beat Nobs, voiced concern about America's withdrawal from the protocol. "From a Swiss perspective, we are very concerned if one of the major emitters of Co2 decides to withdraw from an international treaty," he said.

President Bush announced on Wednesday that his administration would not implement the treaty, under which the international community agreed to legally binding targets for curbing greenhouse gases.

The move reverses a position Bush took during last year's presidential campaign.

"We remain convinced that the Kyoto protocol is the only workable way of addressing the climate change issue," Nobs told swissinfo, "and we would be very happy if the US would reconsider its decision."

In his speech to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Chirac called on "all countries and particularly industrial nations to implement the Kyoto protocol without delay."

In Washington, Bush defended his stance by saying stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions could further weaken the US economy and might lead to further energy shortages.

swissinfo with agencies


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