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U.S. TREATY PROPOSAL
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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 2, FEBRUARY 1997

NEWS...
U.S. TREATY PROPOSAL


Item #d97feb71

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 industrialized.

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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