February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 8, NUMBER 5, MAY 1995
BERLIN CLIMATE TREATY MEETING
Representatives of the
128 signatory countries of the Framework Convention on Climate Change
(Conference of Parties) held their first general meeting in Berlin, March 28 to
April 7. After extensive debate, they agreed to begin a two-year negotiation
process that will establish legally binding targets and timetables for
greenhouse gas emissions after the year 2000. This "Berlin mandate," a
compromise reached unanimously on the final day, acknowledges that the present
convention does not go far enough in urging signatories to return greenhouse gas
emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000.
The mandate closely reflects the position of the European Union, but
disappointed the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and many
environmental groups, who were hoping a binding protocol with targets and
timetables would emerge from the meeting. Also in favor of further emission
restrictions is the insurance industry; insurers and bankers discussed their
concerns over increasing losses associated with natural disasters at a
conference organized by Greenpeace the day before the meeting began. (See Global
Environ. Change Rep., p. 6, Apr. 14.) Opposing specific limits (now or
later) were many business interests in the U.S., including those represented by
the Global Climate Coalition, and most oil exporting states.
Two subsidiary bodies to the Conference of Parties were established. One
will advise on national implementation of the convention; the other will convey
scientific and technical information. The latter may rely on information from
any qualified scientific or technical group, including the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will remain in existence and is preparing
its second scientific assessment, to be released in the fall.
The mandate also establishes a pilot phase for joint implementation projects
between countries, and specifies guidelines for them. However, developed
countries will not be able to take credit against their emission reduction goals
through such projects during this phase. Results will be reviewed in 1999.
For accounts of the Berlin meeting see Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp.
283-285, Apr. 19; Nature, pp. 584-585, Apr. 13 (related editorial on
treaty requirements for poor countries, p. 483, Apr. 6); New Scientist,
p. 4, Apr. 15 (related editorial on p. 3); Chem. & Industry, p. 287,
Apr. 17; Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3, Apr. 14.
Related articles on IPCC activities are in Nature, pp. 584-585, Apr.
13, and New Scientist, p. 4, Apr. 8.
A pro/con discussion on the adequacy of the current convention commitments
appears in the current Climate Change Bulletin, available at no charge
from IUCC, UNEP, Geneva Exec. Ctr., CP 356, 1219 Châtelaine, Switz.
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