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Item #d97nov87

By the end of the Eighth Meeting of the Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate, held in Bonn Oct. 20-31, 1997, all major proposals were on the table, but none of the serious differences were resolved. The meeting was the last formal negotiating session before the Third Conference of Parties in Kyoto next month.

The three major industrial blocks are far apart on proposed targets and timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries. The U.S. came in with the weakest proposal, a return to 1990 emissions during the period 2008 to 2012 (see below). The European Union maintains its long-held position: 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. Japan is in between with a five percent cut during the period 2008 to 2012, although it proposes various flexibilities which, depending on interpretation, could result in only a return to 1990 levels by 2012.

Britain appears to be sticking to its 1992 Earth Summit commitment, which exceeds the European Union position: a 20 percent reduction by 2010 (see Nature, p. 530, Oct. 9, 1997), a goal also favored by the Alliance of Small Island States. In Bonn, a group of 77 developing countries aligned with China and proposed reductions of 15 percent by 2010 and 35 percent by 2020.

The proposals also vary in details such as which greenhouse gases are included, and delegates remain divided on issues such as emission trading, developing country commitments, and differentiation of targets to account for varying circumstances in each country. Informal negotiations are expected to continue up to the start of the Kyoto conference.

Detailed accounts of the Bonn meeting appear in the Nov. 12 and Oct. 29, 1997, issues of Intl. Environ. Rptr. (the latter contains the consolidated negotiating text used at Bonn, pp. 1024-1032); Global Environ. Change Rep., Nov. 14 (; and The New York Times, Oct. 23 ( Official documents are also found on the climate convention Web site (

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