160 Nations Agree to a New Global Warming Treaty

By Eric Pianin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 11, 2001

With the United States on the sidelines, negotiators for more than 160 countries, including Great Britain, Japan and Russia, reached agreement late last night on a groundbreaking climate control treaty setting mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

European environmental leaders, who were outraged when President Bush disavowed the Kyoto global warming treaty in March, vowed to forge ahead without the United States and work out final details in Morocco this week. But the talks nearly collapsed and negotiators had to satisfy the last-minute demands of the Japanese, Russians and Australians for more flexibility in the rules and other economic advantages in order to close the deal.

"The global package is adopted," European Union spokesman Vincent Georis told reporters after 18 hours of talks that stretched into this morning, Morocco time. Officials said they expected the remaining countries to approve the details of the treaty.

The treaty would require about 40 industrialized countries to reduce worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The governing bodies of at least 55 countries responsible for 55 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions must formally ratify the pact before it takes effect.

"This is the only international global warming treaty that begins the world on a downward trend of carbon dioxide emissions," said Jennifer L. Morgan of the World Wildlife Fund climate change campaign, who was in Morocco for the talks. "It sends a strong signal to the shrinking ranks of doubters in politics and business to tackle global warming."

The United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, would be exempt from the treaty. Yesterday, the Department of Energy reported that heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions increased by 3.1 percent in the United States last year -- the biggest increase since the mid-1990s.

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