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December 5, 2005
Volume 83, Number 49
p. 10


Canada Hosts UN Climate meeting

Leaders call for strong action; U.S. continues to oppose emissions targets

Bette Hileman

Nearly 10,000 delegates and observers arrived in Montreal on Nov. 28 to attend the largest United Nations conference on global climate change since the Kyoto protocol was negotiated in 1997. The 12-day meeting includes plans for approving rules related to the protocol and talks about future reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadian Environment Minister Stéphane Dion opened the meeting with a strong call for action. “Governments are acting decisively to fully implement the climate-change convention and are determined to meet their commitments under the Kyoto protocol,” he said. “Let us set our sight on an effective, more inclusive, long-term international approach to climate change.”

Many delegates hope to begin discussions on future greenhouse gas reductions that might be needed after the Kyoto accord expires in December 2012. However, “the U.S. is opposed to any such discussions” involving legally binding targets and timetables, said Harlan L. Watson, head of the U.S. delegation, during a press conference.

Watson pointed out that the U.S., which has not ratified the Kyoto protocol, has committed to reducing its energy intensity-energy used per unit of production-18% by 2012, compared with the level in 1990. But according to a UN report, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased 13% since 1990 in contrast to an overall 5.9% decline from the developed countries that have ratified the Kyoto protocol.

Some progress has already been made. On Nov. 30, delegates from the 34 developed countries that are party to the Kyoto protocol approved final rules for emissions trading and rules for allowing countries to count CO2 absorbed by trees as emissions reductions. Adoption of these rules makes the Kyoto protocol fully operational.

The most important decisions, however, including the imposition of sanctions against nations for breaching the protocol, are not likely to be reached before Dec. 7, when national environment ministers arrive and high-level discussions begin.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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