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Negotiators Reach Deal on Kyoto Climate Pact Rules

Environment: Agreement on fine print for curbing global warming comes at talks in Morocco. Path now appears clear for ratification.

November 10, 2001|From Times Wire Services

MARRAKECH, Morocco — World environment and energy ministers agreed early today on the fine print of the landmark Kyoto pact to limit global warming, paving the way for its implementation next year, delegates said.

The deal, reached after tough bargaining at the end of a two-week U.N.-sponsored conference on climate change, provides a detailed rule book governing the complex treaty aimed at limiting humanity's negative impact on the Earth's climate.

"This opens the way for ratification by all countries, including by the Russian Federation," Russian delegate Alexander Bedritsky said.

Since the United States pulled out of the pollution-cutting agreement in March, ratification by Russia and Japan has become essential to make up the numbers needed to bring the pact into force. Unlike the European Union, neither country has yet committed unequivocally to ratifying the pact.

But Japan indicated today that Tokyo might well ratify the Marrakech deal. "We will have our Cabinet decide on this after I get back, but I feel personally we have a very good package," Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming calls on about 40 industrialized countries to limit or reduce the emission of so-called greenhouse gases--primarily carbon dioxide from industry and cars--that are blamed for the gradual warming of the Earth.

The accord assigns each country a target; the average goal is to reduce emissions 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012.

The 15-member EU has said it will ratify the accord by next year, but the treaty must be ratified by at least 55 countries responsible for 55% of the world's 1990 greenhouse gas emissions before it can come into force. Delegates said they hoped the treaty would take effect next year.

Negotiations deadlocked Friday after Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia objected to five points, including mechanisms to meet the pollution-cutting targets and complex rules on the extent to which nations can offset emissions by counting carbon absorbed by trees and vegetation and by expanding forests.

The U.S. position weighed heavily on the meeting. At the previous conference in Germany in July, all other countries decided to press ahead despite the U.S. withdrawal. But some said the absence of the U.S. made the pact virtually worthless.

A U.S. delegation was in Marrakech and attended even the difficult negotiations in the waning hours of the conference. But the delegates refrained from joining in talks on the treaty, participants said.

Scientists say glaciers are already melting and rain patterns are shifting because of global warming. Over the next century, temperatures could rise as much as 10 degrees, leading to more intense storms, droughts and a potentially disastrous rise in sea levels.

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