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Work starts on Kyoto deal details

BONN, Germany -- Work to thrash out the fine print of a deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions is to begin after the historic agreement reached on Monday.

Negotiators from 180 nations will spend the rest of the week working on the details of the accord, which is aimed at salvaging the Kyoto agreement on the threat from global warming.

The compromise agreement, which leaves out the United States, was reached after four days and a night of talks in Bonn.

Japan, which had played a key role at the negotiations because of its concerns over potential penalties for countries which fail to meet the agreement's targets, will now try to persuade the U.S. to drop its opposition, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said on Monday.

"In order to achieve an agreement inclusive of the United States, Japan would like to continue its maximum efforts, while calling on the United States to take constructive approaches through such fora as Japan-U.S. high-level consultations," he said.

The political agreement will now be turned into a legal document aimed at allowing the Kyoto Protocol to come into force next year once individual states ratify it.

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During the last-ditch effort, delegates struggled with the issue of compliance -- or how to enforce an international treaty covering nearly 180 nations on greenhouse gases and how to impose penalties for violations.

The 1997 treaty aims to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012.

"We have finalised the rescue operation. We have rescued the Kyoto protocol. It is a major achievement because we live with this for many years to come," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom told Reuters.

The deal leaves the U.S. -- the planet's biggest polluter -- as the only world power not to accept the Kyoto accord. President George W. Bush rejected Kyoto in March, saying it would harm the U.S. economy.

"Almost every single country stayed in the protocol," said Olivier Deleuze, the chief European Union negotiator.

"There was one that said the Kyoto Protocol was flawed. Do you see the Kyoto Protocol flawed?"

U.S. undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, who led the U.S. delegation in Bonn, told Reuters that Washington had not tried to block the agreement.

"We came constructively and we intend to leave constructively," she said. "Even in light of our position, this demonstrates our commitment to dealing with global climate change."

Dobriansky was heckled by a few observers when she addressed the conference's closing plenary session.

"We cannot speak for other countries, each country must has to decide for itself, but we don't see (Kyoto) as a sound path for the United States," she said.

An activist from environmental group Greenpeace, Bill Hare, told Reuters news agency: "It shows that George Bush is totally isolated in the climate debate."

"It is the long-awaited second step in the implementation of the Kyoto protocol. We are calling on Japan to ratify it now," he added.

Envoys admitted the deal fell short of tight rules they initially sought, The Associated Press news agency reported.

"I prefer an imperfect agreement that is living to an imperfect agreement that doesn't exist," Deleuze said.

Hundreds of delegates waiting in the convention hall lobby hugged each other when the news came that the agreement was clinched.

The deal clears the way for nations to continue the process of ratifying the protocol, which delegates hope to achieve in 2002.

The treaty must be ratified by 55 nations responsible for 55 percent of global green gas emissions to take force. Some 30 nations have ratified the pact to date.

The European Union has been a major driving force in trying to get the Kyoto accord ratified and onto the statute books of parliaments across the globe.

British Environment Minister Michael Meacher told Reuters news agency: "It's a brilliant day for the environment. It's a huge leap to have achieved a result on this very complex international negotiation."

Conference chairman Jan Pronk had urged the environment ministers to continue talks when they reached a deadlock after a week of meetings.

"This is a good text. It is a balanced text," Pronk said of his compromise proposal. "It is my conviction that it is possible to reach a full agreement."

Climate talks had already failed once when a conference last November in The Hague, Netherlands, collapsed in a last-minute dispute between the U.S. and the Europeans.

• Kyoto Protocol
• U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
• European Union
• Japan Government

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