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April 23, 2001
Volume 79, Number 17
CENEAR 79 17 pp. 12
ISSN 0009-2347
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UN's Pronk warns that pulling out of Kyoto process could harm other deals


Jan Pronk, head of the United Nations forum on climate change, is trying to breathe new life into the formal negotiations to reduce world greenhouse gas emissions. The next meeting is scheduled for July in Bonn.

Last week, Pronk met with State Department officials and spoke at several Washington, D.C., forums in an attempt to convince the Bush Administration to reconsider its decision not to implement the Kyoto protocol. On April 9, Pronk released a compromise proposal that he hopes will serve as a basis for an agreement on climate change in Bonn.

President Bush announced on March 28 that he has no interest in having the Kyoto protocol ratified because it sets no greenhouse gas emissions targets for developing countries and would cause serious harm to the U.S. economy. The treaty requires industrialized countries to reduce their average emissions 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.

Pronk said he opposes any renegotiation of the targets in the Kyoto protocol. "But there is still room for negotiation on specific instruments with regard to the way in which we are going to reach the targets," he explained. Should the U.S. refuse to participate in the Kyoto regime, Pronk warned, its ability to conclude other international agreements, such as trade pacts, would be harmed.

The Bush Administration's criticisms of the Kyoto protocol are based on several misunderstandings, Pronk noted. One misconception is that the protocol will place a straitjacket on economic growth. In fact, he said, it will slow growth by only 0.1%.

The U.S. says it will review Pronk's proposal closely. Environment ministers from 40 to 50 countries, including the U.S., were scheduled to meet in New York City on April 21 to try to work out some of their differences on the climate-change protocol.

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