Magazine article Science News

Climate Storm: Kyoto Pact Is Confirmed, but Conflict Continues

Magazine article Science News

Climate Storm: Kyoto Pact Is Confirmed, but Conflict Continues

Article excerpt

An international meeting that was supposed to cement environmental rules stemming from the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming ended with little consensus besides an agreement to hold more discussions.

The meeting, held Dec. 6 to 17, 2004, in Buenos Aires, was the first since Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol in November. Russia's approval fulfills the condition that countries responsible for more than 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gases have ratified the treaty, so the agreement will take effect on Feb. 16. The Kyoto Protocol commits ratifying countries to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, by 2012, to 5 percent below their 1990 emissions.

The meeting opened in a celebratory mood, but divisions quickly emerged. The United States, which hasn't ratified the treaty, allied with major oil producers and some developing countries and attempted to derail plans for a 2005 meeting to discuss greenhouse-gas reductions after 2012. However, a last-minute compromise states that a single, "informal" meeting will take place next May.

Conflict blocked agreement on compensation for the effects of climate change on small island states.

The assembled nations, including the United States, didn't argue over the link between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures, a point of past contention. However, they did debate the connection between weather-related disasters and climate change. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released figures showing that 2004 was the costliest year on record for worldwide hurricane and other weather-related damage. …

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