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Global Climate Change Digest

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



Item #d91aug52

As expected, no spectacular progress was made at the June 1991 session of the International Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Climate Change. The United States, along with several other countries, maintained its opposition to specific commitments to reducing greenhouse emissions, which are now favored by most other developed countries including the European Community and Japan. The United States will agree to freeze total greenhouse emissions by the year 2000, as long as CFCs are included. Most European countries want to freeze carbon dioxide emissions alone by the year 2000 and then reduce them, and think CFCs should be omitted from the accounting, since their planned elimination under the Montreal Protocol would allow some countries to at least stabilize greenhouse emissions without any other action.

These other issues to be settled were delineated at the session: whether countries should continue using existing fuel resources or develop alternatives; whether there should be a program of technological cooperation and funding; and whether developing countries should be held to emission reduction targets. Britain, France and Japan proposed a system described as "pledge and review," under which countries would determine their own specific commitments to reduce emissions and be reviewed periodically by an international committee. Interpretation of the precise intent and forcefulness of this approach is discussed in the first three articles cited below.

The delegates did manage to select co-chairs and vice-chairs for the two working groups (on commitments and on legal and institutional mechanisms), which involved a delicate balance between developed and developing countries. Jean Ripert of France, chair of the entire negotiating committee, said the main task for the upcoming September meeting in Nairobi is to define the extent and scope of commitments to limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

See Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 360, July 3, 1991; Nature, p. 3, July 4; Global Environ. Change Rep., p. 3, July 3; New Scientist, p. 16, June 22 and p. 20, July 6.

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