February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 2, FEBRUARY 1997
U.S. TREATY PROPOSAL
On January 17, 1997, the U.S. State Department
released details of its plan for a new global climate change agreement, which it
had sketched out in the latest meeting of the Ad-Hoc Group on the Berlin
Mandate. (See Global Climate Change Digest, NEWS, p. 14, Jan. 1997.) It
emphasizes flexibility in the ways industrialized countries may meet their
treaty requirements, calling for no fixed CO2 emission targets before the year
2010. Instead, countries would meet these limits in part by reducing other
greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, nitrous oxide, and halocarbons. Other
forms of flexibility include international trading of emission permits, and
joint implementation projects between industrialized and developing countries.
A novel provision establishes greenhouse gas emission budgets for each
developed country, defined in a series of periods of up to 10 years duration.
The emissions allowed to each country within each period would be capped. It
could emit more by "borrowing" emissions from the next budget period,
but would have to pay them back with "interest," reducing the allowed
emissions in the next period by an even greater amount.
The U.S. proposal includes stronger requirements for developing countries
than other proposals made so far. They would have to take "no-regrets"
actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and would have to accept increasing
responsibility for controlling their emissions as they become more
Reactions to the proposal by environmental groups is mixed. According to
Global Environ. Change Rep. (p. 3, Jan. 31, 1997), the Sierra Club and
Greenpeace called it too weak, while the Natural Resource Defense Council
commended portions of the plan, but said the jury is still out until the
Administration sets specific targets for reductions.
The reaction of the Global Climate Coalition, representing a variety of
industrial interests, was a reiteration of its position that the U.S. should
examine the economic consequences of its existing climate commitments,
before pushing for stronger measures. (See Mining Week, newsletter of
the National Mining Association, Jan. 27, 1997.)
The U.S. proposal and others will be considered at a series of workshops,
and some combination of proposals will be submitted to the third conference of
parties to the climate convention (Kyoto, Japan, December 1997).
Other discussions of the U.S. proposal are found in New Scientist,
p. 8, Feb. 1, 1997; Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 50-51, Jan. 22, 1997; and
Nature, p. 605, Dec. 19-26, 1996.
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