Today's date:
Spring 2005

Beyond Kyoto: A Global Energy Perestroika

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, the last president of the Soviet Union, now heads Green Cross International.

MOSCOW-Thanks to the Russian Duma's decisive ratification in October, the Kyoto Protocol on climate change went into effect in February. Though only a first step in stemming emissions that cause global warming, this historic moment nonetheless opens a fresh opportunity to launch what I call a "global energy perestroika" policy that focuses on energy efficiency, clean technologies and the rapid deployment of renewable energy.

Perestroika, or restructuring, must begin with the progressive elimination of the subsidies that governments continue to provide to the coal, oil and nuclear sectors. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), such subsidies amount to between $250 billion and $300 billion annually worldwide, thereby enormously distorting the market against energy-efficient technology and renewable energy.

Just as ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was a victory for multilateralism, energy perestroika will also necessarily entail a common approach by all the many players whose emissions cause global warming-and are also harmed by it.