160 Nations Endorse Pact on Global Warming Compliance

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 15, 1998


Diplomats, clinching a deal in the final hours of tumultuous, marathon climate talks here, agreed today to put their governments on a fast track for deciding how to meet ambitious goals for slashing emissions from fossil-fuel combustion.

The accord, gaveled through at sunrise after nearly two days of non-stop negotiations, represented the first concrete steps toward implementing the global warming treaty approved last December in Kyoto, Japan. In what diplomats described as a crucial first test for the pact, negotiators from more than 160 countries agreed on deadlines and an "action plan" that they say will guide efforts to fight global warming.

The deal was hailed by U.S. and European ministers as evidence of momentum in implementing the controversial climate treaty. But diplomats were more encouraged by apparent progress in resolving one of the thorniest issues blocking progress in climate talks -- whether developing countries should take on more responsibility for reducing their emissions.

"This conference was marked by a clear shift in the terms of the debate," said Stuart Eizenstat, the deputy secretary of state who led the U.S. delegation to the United Nations talks here. "Our talks here were infused with a promising new spirit of engagement that is helping to bridge the divide between developed and developing nations."

Today's agreement was reached after intense bargaining and diplomacy-by-exhaustion that nearly mirrored the December conference, which produced the Kyoto accord. The deal teetered on collapse a number of times as a block of developing countries -- led by Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states -- sought to block proposals for setting firm deadlines for resolving disputes about compliance with the treaty. The Saudis changed their stance after other developing countries broke ranks and sided with industrial countries.

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