Kyoto: support and opposition

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Why are some nations supporting the Kyoto protocol and other nations opposing it?

Because complying with the Kyoto protocol is more costly for some countries than it is for others. From the purely technical standpoint, complying with Kyoto requirements means two things, (1) adopting and enforcing fuel economy standards for cars and (2) switching power generation and household heating away from burning coal to burning natural gas or, failing that, heating oil.

The U.S. opposes the Kyoto protocol, because the U.S. car manufacturers derive the bulk of their profits from fuel-inefficient SUVs; if large SUVs were banned (or heavily taxed), the U.S. auto industry would go out of business, because passenger cars it makes are mostly sold at a small loss compared to 10% operating margin earned by Honda and Toyota.

Many developing countries oppose the Kyoto protocol because they have somewhat antiquated, but generally operational, coal-burning power generation industries. Trying to switch away from coal would require substantial investment in new power plants and natural gas distribution infrastructure. In addition, many of those countries have no oil or gas of their own, so switching away from coal would make them import-dependent…

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