Iraq Again Focuses Attention on U.S., This Time By Ratifying Kyoto

Yes, that's right: the Iraqi government, which has been unable to provide many basic services and security to its citizens, has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. According to the Agence France-Presse,

The presidential council ratified in its session on January 23 a law according to which the Republic of Iraq will join the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol

This bit of news will likely put the United States into an even more uncomfortable position with respect to climate change, especially given that Australia ratified the treaty in December, leaving the U.S. as the only industrialized nation yet to join. Oh, and then there was that mildly embarrassing incident in Bali, where the U.S. was told by the representative from Papua New Guinea to either lead or "get out of the way." After all, if Iraq can find the political will to ratify Kyoto, it's hard to believe that the U.S., with its more than 200 year history of democracy and a populace that is demanding action, can't do the same.It's not entirely clear why Iraq would even bother ratifying the protocol. Granted, the move is largely symbolic, since developing countries have no commitments under the first phase of Kyoto and the new law is not "specific on the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions Iraq would seek to cut." Furthermore, even if Iraq did have targets to meet, it likely would have an easy time doing so. Much as Russia and the former Soviet Bloc countries have benefited from a lower baseline emissions level thanks to the drastic decline in production--and therefore carbon emissions--after the fall of the Soviet Union, Iraq's emissions must have fallen dramatically after the U.S. invasion brought the economy to a standstill. Still, it's interesting why a country in disarray would bother taking a stance on climate change, symbolic or otherwise.

Certainly, Iraq has seen some unusual weather recently. In fact, several weeks ago it snowed in Baghdad for the first time in 100 years. And as an arid, impoverished and ethnically divided country, Iraq is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Ironically, "the Iraqis decided to join the pioneering, yet troubled pact almost two weeks after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was hailing legislative progress on another front." So it's entirely possible that Iraq was also inclined to embarrass the U.S., or at the very least assert its sovereignty.

Via: ::the LEDE (NY Times Blog) and ::Agence France-Presse

See Also: ::Snow in Buenos Aires: Was it Global Warming?, ::Canada Sort of Commits to Kyoto. We Think., ::Climate Change Causing Malaria in Papua New Guinea Every Year, Says Expert, ::Responding to Bali, ::Bali Blogging: "Excuse Me Mister, Where Are You Going?", ::A Democracy at Work: Australia Votes on Climate Change, ::In Iraq, Scooters Are the Way to Get Around Town, ::Europe May Tax Non-Kyoto Nations, and ::Europe on Course to Beat Kyoto Objectives

Tags: Australia | Bali | Carbon Emissions