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#19 - JRL 7254
Financial Times (UK)
July 18, 2003
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Kyoto: command and control is the wrong approach
By Alister McFarquhar and Philip Stott
From Prof Philip Stott.

Sir, I must disagree with Michael Grubb and Yuri Safonov ("Why Russia is dragging its feet on Kyoto", July 14) that Russia's tardiness over ratifying the Kyoto protocol is to be regretted. Indeed, I believe Russia is to be congratulated for having a vigorous debate about the long-term value of the protocol. It is not insignificant that a number of well respected Russian scientists have recently raised serious doubts about, from the Russian point of view, both the validity of the science and the efficacy of the economics involved. This debate has led to a number of critical articles in the press, including, in Pravda , the "Kyoto protocol is not worth a thing" and, in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "The warming that never existed". The Russian Federation has now called a major international conference in late September to review the whole issue.

In the meantime, we should use the space Russian questioning is affording us to consider the best way economically to approach inexorable climate change, whatever its complex causes. Should we be maintaining strong adaptive economies that can adjust to climate change whatever its direction or should we be tilting at windmills in trying to manage the unmanageable by fiddling at the margins with just a few of the millions of factors involved in climate change?

For me the answer is clear. The "command-and-control" approach of the Kyoto protocol is dangerously misguided. It will work neither climatically nor economically. And even worse, as with the UK government's recent windy edicts on energy policy, it could eventually undermine our ability to adapt to change without providing any predictable control of climate. Russia's prevarications may ultimately benefit us all.

Philip Stott, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1LD (Professor Emeritus of Biogeography, University of London)

From Dr Alister McFarquhar.

Sir, Michael Grubb and Yuri Safonov ask why Russia is dragging its feet on Kyoto, especially as it has emissions allowances to sell. Hopefully it is because their scientists have caught up with scientific knowledge. Two minutes on www.sepp.org would inform your contributors of current debate. Little is known about the causes, effects and extent of climate change. Weather satellite and balloon measures conflict with surface climate measures so the assumption of climate warming in Kyoto is in question and scientists strongly disagree.

Carbon may not be the main culprit. Kyoto reduces carbon only 5 per cent below benchmark in 100 years. The enormous cost will reduce economic growth in coming decades when it promises to be elusive, with great pain for poor countries.

Alister McFarquhar, Downing College, Cambridge CB2 1DQ

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