Two-year deadline set to adopt world rules for cutting pollution Curbing greenhouse gases could delay global warming

November 15, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

After an all-night session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, negotiators from more than 150 countries set a deadline early yesterday of two years for adopting operational rules for cutting emissions of industrial waste gases that are believed to cause global warming.

With that, proponents of the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty under which the reductions are to be made, declared victory in the two-week round of talks.

The treaty's backers said the conference revealed a shift in the worldwide debate on how to deal with the possibility of disruptive climate change brought about by emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of oil, coal, wood and natural gas.

Buenos Aires made clear, they said, that industry and developing countries were becoming more engaged in the effort to control emissions and in trying to make the Kyoto Protocol work.

Under the protocol, negotiated in December in Japan, industrialized countries agreed to accept legally binding reductions in greenhouse gases averaging about 5 percent below 1990 levels in the period 2008 to 2012.

The protocol set up a number of mechanisms scheduled to achieve the cuts most effectively and at least cost. Chief among them was a plan to allow countries to trade in emission rights, and another proposal, called the clean development mechanism, to allow rich countries to invest in emissions-reducing enterprises in developing nations.

On Wednesday, Argentina became the first developing country to announce that it would assume binding targets and timetables for controlling emissions. Kazakstan followed.

Honduras led a Latin American proposal to speed introduction of the advent of the clean development mechanism. Some African nations expressed interest in becoming more involved.

All of this led Stuart Eizenstat, the chief U.S. negotiator, to declare a "sea change in attitude" after the talks concluded.

A number of big companies, including General Motors, Monsanto, Shell and British Petroleum, have recently adopted such a stance, and Eizenstat said yesterday that their representatives seemed to outnumber fossil-fuel industry hard-liners in Buenos Aires.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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