Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Seeks Accords for Earth Summit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Seeks Accords for Earth Summit

Article excerpt

THE crucial final negotiations to set the international accords for next June's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the largest gathering ever of world leaders, begins today at the United Nations.

So far, there has been only incremental progress in overcoming the divisions between third-world and industrialized nations across more than 100 summit agenda items.

The five-week session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) opens on a note of mixed emotion after last week's difficult round of UN global-warming talks.

Many observers had viewed these climate talks as the best early indicator of the summit's overall prospects for international agreements. Though not fully understood, global warming is believed to be one of the most serious environmental threats facing the world.

But there were mixed reviews of the progress in those talks. Many environment and development experts and third-world summit participants felt that the US has not committed enough to the process they hoped would involve more sweeping change in North-South, rich-poor balances.

Climate change negotiators from more than 100 countries had been deadlocked over stabilizing carbon-dioxide emissions and whether money would be made available to third-world countries to help them curb emissions as they try to expand economic growth.

The US pledged $75 million in aid to developing countries to help them curb the emissions believed to cause climate change, but it did not commit to emissions targets and time tables. A number of industrialized nations, including the European Community, have promised to hold emissions of carbon dioxide to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Instead, the US said a number of actions being taken to reduce emissions in the US will have effects comparable to other nation's targets.

Third-world diplomats don't want to be held to emissions standards that even industrialized nations won't meet. Moreover, those standards could limit needed economic growth in developing countries unless they receive financial assistance to help develop alternative energies. …

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