February 28, 2007
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Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 5, NUMBER 6, JUNE 1992
The United States prevailed during the final
negotiation session for a framework climate convention held in New York City.
Adopted May 9, 1992, the final text commits nations to carrying out programs to
reduce the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, but avoids timetables
and specific targets for emission reductions. Returning to 1990 levels of
emissions is mentioned only as a general aim of such programs (for the developed
countries). Nations are committed to periodically reporting detailed
information on policies and measures to reduce emissions, and projections of
emissions. The first reports would be due within six months of the commencement
of the convention, which could occur this year if formal acceptance by at least
50 countries comes soon.
The draft treaty, to be presented at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in
early June, is being viewed as a foundation for future agreements or protocols.
It sets up a mechanism for periodically assessing the danger of climate change
based on recent information, and taking further action if necessary. The first
meeting would be in 1994 if the treaty is rapidly accepted.
Funding to help developing countries comply with the treaty and establish
emission programs remains a thorny and unsettled issue. The current draft
designates the Global Environment Facility, run by the World Bank, as an interim
agent for funding, but many developing countries want a different mechanism. At
a meeting on May 1, representatives of developing and industrialized countries
agreed to modify the fund so that all countries would be eligible to join and
would have a say in its governance (Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 256, May 6,
Some observers and participants of the negotiations consider a treaty
without specific commitments nearly worthless. But others view the agreement far
preferable to none because it makes possible the involvement of a large group of
countries, recognizes that greenhouse gases are a potential threat that warrants
action, and provides a basis for further agreements.
For general accounts and interpretation of the treaty agreement see Intl.
Environ. Rptr., pp. 284-286, May 20, 1992 (issue includes full text of
treaty); Nature, pp. 97-98, May 14; New Scientist, p. 5, May 16,
and p. 6, May 9; Sci. News, p. 326, May 16; Global Environ.
Change Rep., pp. 1-3, May 22.
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