1) KYOTO PROTOCOL ON CLIMATE CHANGE OPENS FOR SIGNATURE
UNEP Press Release
Bonn, 16 March 1998 Three months after it was adopted, the Kyoto Protocol is being officially opened for signature today at United Nations headquarters. Heads of state or government, foreign ministers, and other designated officials representing Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change may sign the agreement in New York from 16 March 1998 to 15 March 1999.
By signing a treaty a State indicates that it recognizes the authentic text, intends to complete the procedures for becoming legally bound by it, and is committed not to act against the treatys objectives before being so bound. Signature is not, however, the key political act; this is ratification (or its alternatives of acceptance, approval, or accession), whereby a State binds itself to observe the treaty. Depending on a countrys system of governance, signature may be simply an executive decision while ratification may require legislative approval.
The Protocol will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 55 Parties to the Convention; these Parties must include developed countries representing at least 55% of this groups total 1990 carbon dioxide emissions.
"Today marks the start of the climate change regimes post-Kyoto phase," says Michael Zammit Cutajar, the Conventions Executive Secretary. "We can look forward to the Protocols entry into force very early in the next century and to a first review of its contents soon thereafter. The first benchmark will be in 2005, when Parties must demonstrate progress in meeting the emissions targets that have already been agreed and start work on defining targets for the following period. Meanwhile, all eyes are on the next Conference of the Parties in Buenos Aires in November, which will advance the political agenda and the design of the various mechanisms set up by the Protocol."
The Kyoto Protocol contains legally binding emissions targets for developed (Annex I) countries for the post-2000 period. Together they must reduce their combined emissions of six key greenhouse gases by at least 5% by the period 2008-2012, calculated as an average over these five years. Cuts in the three most important gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N20) will be measured against a base year of 1990 (with some exceptions). Cuts in three long-lived industrial gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) can be measured against either a 1990 or 1995 baseline.
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by the year 2010, the Protocol will result in 2010 emissions levels that are approximately 29% below what they would have been in the absence of the Protocol. This arrest and reversal of the upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions that started in industrialized countries 150 years ago will move the international community one step closer to achieving the Conventions ultimate objective of preventing "dangerous anthropogenic [man-made] interference with the climate system".
Note to journalists: For more information, please contact Michael Williams in Geneva at (+41-22) 917 8242/44, fax (+41-22) 797 3464, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact UNIC Bonn at (+49-228) 815 2770, fax (+49-228) 815 2777, e-mail email@example.com. The Kyoto Protocol can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.unfccc.de.
2) U.S. FAILURE TO RATIFY KYOTO TREATY WILL KILL IT, U.N. SAYS
AP-Dow Jones News Service
March 16, 1998
UNITED NATIONS (AP)--A worldwide agreement on global warming will be meaningless if congressional Republicans make good on a threat to block U.S. ratification, the pacts top administrator said Monday.
"The United States is too important, too weighty in the worlds economy, in the worlds carbon economy, for a climate regime to function well without it," said Michael Zammit Cutajar, the executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Convention.
Diplomats from 150 nations haggled for 11 days last December in Kyoto, Japan before agreeing to the plan, which for the first time will commit nations to rolling back emissions - carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and five other atmospheric gases - to pre-1990 levels by 2012.
But the treaty does not require developing countries to commit to the rollbacks, leading critics to argue it would force businesses to move to countries not bound by the same emissions ceilings.
Developing countries, led by China, said their economies could not sustain the radical changes that the pact required, and demanded the right to opt in voluntarily.
Congressional Republicans say that is inequitable and have vowed to kill any effort to ratify the treaty.
Without the United States, the worlds biggest carbon gas emitter, implementing the pact would not be possible, Zammit Cutajar told reporters.
The Kyoto Protocol will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 55 parties to the convention.
The United States accounts for 36% of worldwide 1990 emissions _ making it crucial to implementing the agreement, Zammit Cutajar said.
Zammit Cutajar was at U.N. headquarters to attend the first day of signings of the protocol.
The signings - on Monday, by Argentina, Switzerland, Maldives, Samoa, Argentina and Antigua and Barbuda - are symbolic, because the treaty needs ratification to be legally effective.
3) GLOBAL-WARMING PACT NEGOTIATION MAY PHASE OUT EMISSIONS TRADING
The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition
March 17, 1998
By JOHN J. FIALKA
WASHINGTONThe emissions trading that the U.S. pushed to be a permanent feature of last years global warming treaty may phase out after eight years, according to the head of the United Nations commission that negotiated the pact.
The practice will eventually discourage the involvement of developing nations, which worry that emissions trades would perpetuate pollution by industrial countries, said Ambassador Raul Estrada Oyuela, an Argentinian who heads the U.N. agency in Bonn that is preparing for the Kyoto, Japan, treatys implementation. "We want to make sure were not creating a new crop for nations to sell," he added.
Trading and compliance details are to be included in negotiations set for this November in Buenos Aires. Enforcement of limits for developed nations is scheduled to begin in 2008.
Through trading, industrialized nations can reduce the economic impact of global controls on emissions of carbon dioxide and other man-made "greenhouse gases" thought to be warming the earths atmosphere.
A company could receive credit against its countrys limits by buying emissions rights from companies that have reduced warming-related gases below their limits. Or the company could get credits by helping developing nations reduce their emissions, which might be cheaper than meeting its countrys limits.
The treaty, which would reduce the average industrialized nations emissions by 5% from the base year 1990, was opened for signature Monday at the U.N. Small island nations and European Union countries are expected to be among the first to sign. The U.S. is likely to wait until after details are hammered out in Buenos Aires.
The White House hasnt submitted the treaty for Senate ratification because of strong congressional opposition. The Senate has tied its approval to the application of emissions controls to China and other major developing nations not subject to treaty controls.