Planetark.org, Sept. 3, 2007
About 1,000 delegates at the Aug 27-31 UN talks set greenhouse gas emissions cuts of between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels as a non-binding starting point for rich nations' work on a new pact to extend the UN's Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
"These conclusions...indicate what industrialised countries must do to show leadership," said Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, welcoming a compromise deal on the range of needed cuts.
"But more needs to be done by the global community," he told a news conference at the end of the 158-nation talks. Many countries want to broaden
Delegates agreed that the 25-40 percent range "provides useful initial parameters for the overall level of ambition of further emissions reductions".
It fell short of calls by the European Union and developing nations for the range to be called a stronger "guide" for future work.
Delegates in the
"This is a small step," Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the EU Commission delegation, told Reuters. "We wanted bigger steps. But I think the 25-40 percent will be viewed as a starting point, an anchor for further work."
The UN's climate panel said in a study in May 2007 that rich nations would have to cut emissions by between 25 and 40 percent to help avert the worst impacts of climate change from droughts, storms, heatwaves and rising seas.
"The process is moving along," said Leon Charles from
De Boer said that the decisions might help environment ministers who will meet in
"This meeting has put the
Environmentalists also hailed the conclusions as a step in the right direction. "The road to
"We have a clear message from most governments that they will take seriously" scientists' calls for deep cuts, said Hans Verolme, climate expert of the WWF.
The Associated Press, Aug. 31, 2007
A weeklong U.N. climate conference concluded that industrialized countries should strive to cut emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent of their 1990 levels by 2020. Experts said that target would serve as a loose guide for a major international climate summit to be held in December in
"We have reached broad agreement on the main issues," said Leon Charles, a negotiator from
Delegates worked into Friday evening to overcome resistance from several countries -- including
The 2020 targets are not binding, but they were seen as an important signal that industrialized nations are serious about slashing the amount of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases to try to avert the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.
Friday's agreement sought to ease concerns that the emissions target might be too ambitious for some nations, noting that efforts to cut back on airborne pollutants are "determined by national circumstances and evolve over time."
But it made clear that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to "very low levels" to guard against potentially deadly flooding, drought and other fallout.
"Countries have been able to reassess the big picture of what is needed by identifying the key building blocks for an effective response to climate change," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official.
De Boer said the agreement doesn't let developing countries off the hook.
"Even if industrialized countries do this, it will only be a contribution to the global effort," he told reporters.
Friday's agreement does not include the
Environmental groups stressed that developed countries need to take urgent measures to keep Earth's temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- a limit scientists contend is critical to prevent catastrophic flooding and other deadly weather patterns.
"They need to be guided by the potential calamity," said Angela Anderson, vice president for climate programs at the Washington-based National Environmental Trust.
Failing to cut emissions by at least 30 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 "would condemn millions to disease, water shortages and misery in the developing world," said Red Constantino, an official with Greenpeace International.
WWF International called Friday's agreement a "safe range for emission reductions," but cautioned that it would have to be put into action. "In
European Union officials had pressed hard for the 2020 targets. The EU already has pledged to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases by 20 percent by that year, and by another 10 percent if other industrialized nations join in.
Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official, said some developing countries -- including small island nations most vulnerable to climate change as polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise -- were pressing industrialized nations for even deeper emissions cuts.
Their negotiators, he said, were acting out of a sense of urgency and a fear that "they won't have a country to represent" if climate change is not slowed.