Clinton Hails Global Warming Pact
But early Senate ratification is unlikely
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, Dec. 11) -- President Bill Clinton today hailed the global warming pact negotiated in Japan as "environmentally strong and economically sound."
In a statement and comments to reporters, Clinton said he was pleased by the agreement, but wished it was stronger in calling for the participation of developing nations.
Nevertheless, Clinton called it "a huge first step" and said the agreement "reflects a commitment by our generation to act in the interests of future generations."
Said Clinton: "No nation is more committed to this effort than the United States. In Kyoto, our mission was to persuade other nations to find common ground so we could make realistic and achievable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That mission was accomplished. The United States delegation, at the direction of Vice President [Al] Gore, and with the skilled leadership of Undersecretary Stuart Eizenstat, showed the way. The momentum generated by Vice President Gore's visit helped move the negotiation to a successful conclusion and I thank him."
Clinton said the pact "strongly reflects the commitment of the United States to use the tools of the free market to tackle this difficult problem."
Republican critics in the Senate already have denounced the pact, and the president conceded there are hard challenges ahead, particularly on limiting emissions in developing nations. "But the industrialized nations have come together, taken a strong step, and that is real progress," he said.
Negotiators worked out the pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions in all-night negotiations in Kyoto. The compromise calls on European nations to reduce emissions 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, the U.S., 7 percent; and Japan, 6 percent.
The agreement was approved by the climate conference plenary, making it a draft treaty. It must then be ratified by each country's legislature before it becomes a treaty.
Twenty-one other industrialized countries would set similar targets between the years 2008 and 2012. The developing world's participation in the agreement has been scrapped in exchange for a deal on trading emissions by developed nations.
A senior U.S. official called the agreement "a work in progress ... It's not everything the U.S. wanted but the best it could get."
Pulling in the developing nations
Gore, who often serves as the administration's point person on environmental issues, said the U.S. intends to press for "meaningful participation by key developing nations." Until that happens, the administration will not seek a ratification vote in the Senate, Gore said.
"As we said from the very beginning, we will not submit this agreement for ratification until key developing nations participate in this effort," Gore declared. "This is a global problem that will require a global solution."
The U.S. plans bilateral talks with key developing nations, he said.
Lieberman: '98 vote is unlikely
In another development, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) says he doubts that the agreement will go to the Senate for ratification in 1998.
"We have until 2012 to meet Kyoto ... and it doesn't make sense" to take it to the Senate until there is "participation of developing nations," Lieberman said.
Lieberman, one of six senators who was in Kyoto for the conference, called on his Senate colleagues to "keep your minds open." He said "change is never easy" but it's better than the alternative if the emission reductions do not occur.
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Thursday Dec. 11, 1997
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