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UN Climate-change Meeting Wraps up

Delegates agree to extend Kyoto protocol beyond 2012

by Bette Hileman
December 13, 2005

Although it took all night, delegates from 157 countries to a United Nations climate-change conference in Montreal completed negotiations on Dec. 10 on more than 40 issues, including a plan to begin a new round of discussions next year to extend the Kyoto protocol after the first phase ends in 2012.

The U.S. is not a party to the Kyoto protocol and therefore had little input in the final decisions.

Calling the meeting a success, the conference president, Canadian Environment Minister Stéphane Dion, said: "Key decisions have been made in several areas. The Kyoto protocol has been switched on, a dialogue about the future action has begun, parties have moved forward work on adaptation, and [they] have advanced the implementation of the regular work program of the [climate change] convention and of the protocol."

The conference delegates approved several important measures. They established a working group to discuss future commitments for developed countries for the period after 2012 but set no deadline for completion of a second round of negotiations. They elected a compliance committee that will develop enforcement procedures for the Kyoto protocol. And they committed more than $13 million to fund operation of the clean development mechanism that transfers greenhouse gas reduction technologies to developing countries.

The delegates also adopted a five-year work program to identify measures to adapt to climate change, and they agreed on further steps to promote the development of technologies to store carbon dioxide from fossil fuel in geological formations.

All of the delegates at the meeting, including those from the U.S., decided to begin a "nonbinding" dialogue about all possible measures to cut emissions. This vague agreement, which has no specific goals, was agreed to by parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which the U.S. is party.


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