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July 23, 2001
Volume 79, Number 30
CENEAR 79 30 p.10
ISSN 0009-2347
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Concern over collapse of international accord dominates all other issues


Negotiations to resolve details of the Kyoto protocol on global climate change began in Bonn on July 16 in an atmosphere of gloom. The talks--which are a continuation of last November's failed negotiations--are officially focused on rules for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and on supporting developing countries' efforts to reduce their emissions.

PROTEST Art was one way activists sought to get their point across during the early days of the Bonn meeting.
But the issue foremost in the minds of most delegates in Bonn is whether an outright collapse of the negotiations can be averted. Delegates wonder which industrialized countries will be willing to ratify the Kyoto protocol and meet their emissions reduction targets now that the U.S. has rejected the protocol. Specifically, they are focused on Japan's decision. Unless Japan participates, the treaty is dead because it must be ratified by countries representing 55% of industrialized world emissions, and with the U.S. out, Japan must sign on to meet that requirement.

Issues left unresolved at The Hague last November dominate this conference: the details of an international emissions trading system, the percent of emissions reductions that must be achieved at home, the credit that countries should be allowed to claim for CO2 soaked up by forests and soils, and financial assistance that industrialized countries will give developing nations to help them reduce emissions.

So far, the U.S. has assumed a low profile. Its delegation is much smaller than usual, and its delegates are saying very little in the negotiating sessions. Also, it is not holding its usual daily press conference.

On July 17, Japan indicated it might ratify the treaty. Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Japan would not delay implementing the accord next year. And Canada surprised some delegates on July 18 by saying it will adhere to the Kyoto goals. "We are committed to meeting the targets that we agreed to at Kyoto," Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley said. The conference is scheduled to conclude on July 27.

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