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 11, NUMBER 7, JULY 1998
The many issues
left unresolved after the Kyoto meeting have been under intense discussion over the past
few months, particularly at U.N.-sponsored meetings held in Bonn, Germany, in June. Of
greatest concern are mechanisms (such as emissions trading and emissions offset projects)
that would give industrialized countries flexibility in meeting their treaty commitments.
An earlier series of meetings billed as "emissions trading week," held in
London during the week of May 11, indicated that market-based mechanisms and other forms
of flexibility are gaining acceptance, according to Global Environ. Change Rep.
(pp. 1-3, May 22, 1998). A few days later, the G-8 industrial countries agreed at their
annual summit to focus on such market mechanisms. (Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 506,
But the Bonn meetings made little headway in reaching agreement over a trading program.
The European Union and Eastern European countries want to limit the amount of emissions
trading industrialized countries can use to satisfy their treaty commitments; the U.S.,
Canada, Japan, Australia and other countries oppose any limit. After the Bonn meetings,
Michael Zammit Cutajar, executive secretary of the climate convention, doubted that
countries would resolve the issue even at the Fourth Conference of Parties to the
convention. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 607-608, June 24.) That meeting will be
held November 2-13 in Buenos Aires.
There were however some positive developments at Bonn, according to U.S. negotiator
Mark Hambley (ibid.). Many countries, including developing ones, are now reacting
positively to flexible, market-based instruments such as emission trading and the Clean
Development Mechanism (a clearinghouse for emission offset projects in developing
countries). Second, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was directed to
investigate how changes in land use and forestry can offset greenhouse gas emissions. (For
a discussion of "forest credits" see Environ. Sci. & Technol., p.
125A, Mar. 1, 1998.) Third, a new group of industrialized countries has formed and proven
itself effective in climate change negotiations. Here Hambley was referring to a proposal
on emission trading offered by the U.S. and nine other countries.
Both environmental and industry groups were pleased that the Bonn meetings were open,
in contrast to previous negotiations. Industry representatives were particularly
encouraged by the improved attitudes of negotiators toward emission trading.
In late April 1998, Japan became the first major industrialized country to sign the
Kyoto Protocol, followed by the European Union and Canada. China became the 37th country
to sign a month later. This raises the pressure on the U.S. to sign as well, but the U.S.
Senate still opposes the treaty unless it also requires developing countries to
For detailed coverage of treaty developments, see the official U.N. Website (http://www.unfccc.de/); the Weathervane Web site
of Resources for the Future (http://www.weathervane.rff.org/),
and Global Change Electronic Edition (http://www.globalchange.org/).
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