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Kyoto's Climate Change

An atmosphere of gloom hangs over talks starting today in Germany to fill in the details of the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. (See story, page 1.) It needn't be that way.

Any disagreements can usually be overcome with fresh ideas. Even President Bush, who followed the Senate in rejecting the pact, has offered some alternatives, albeit limited ones that at least keep the United States engaged on this issue of global importance.

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The accord's radical step of lowering carbon dioxide emissions in developed nations between 2008-2012 now seems impossible, given the delays so far. Seeking a more realistic timetable should be one topic on the agenda. Another is a timetable for bringing the developing countries, especially China and India, into the agreement once the richer countries start to implement the pact.

And the US idea of including forests as a tool for absorbing carbon dioxide also deserves inclusion.

If the solutions in the Kyoto accord raised hopes too high, now is the time to put them on a more solid basis.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor