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World ministers join post-Kyoto climate change conference
MONTREAL (AFP) Dec 05, 2005
Ministers from around the world were to join a UN summit on climate change Tuesday, with the United States, which has rejected the Kyoto protocol, playing a key role in the negotiations.

The UN Climate Change Conference, which started one week ago, is seeking to forge a future global regime to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some 10,000 delegates and members of environmental groups are meeting here for the conference, which runs through December 9.

The controversial Kyoto protocol, with measures aimed at reducing global warming, became fully operational on Wednesday after the conference adopted the final rules.

The 34 signatory countries -- which do not include the United States or Australia -- passed the final regulatory measures by consensus.

Kyoto was negotiated in 1997 and formally entered into force on February 16, 2005. However, it could not come into operation until after the formal adoption of the rulebook, which was drawn up over the past four years.

Under the protocol, the 34 agree to reduce emissions of gases that cause global warming until 2012. The Montreal conference is trying to set out preliminary plans to further cut emissions when the accord ends.

But the United States, which emits 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, last week opposed any talk of extending Kyoto-style limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington criticized the treaty, which called for reductions by six percent of emissions from 1990 levels, saying they applied more stringently to developed countries than to developing ones.

Washington has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement, which called for reduction by six percent of emissions from their 1990 levels, saying it applied more stringently to developed countries than to developing ones.

Harlan Watson, head of the US delegation, has said Americans did not want an approach that includes objectives or a timetable to reduce emissions.

"The United States is opposed to any such discussions," Watson said last week.

Washington has since 2002 embarked on a voluntary policy to reduce its emissions by 18 percent without harming the US economy, he said

US environmental groups meanwhile, on Saturday presented the US consulate here with 600,000 signatures on a petition seeking US action on global warming, organizers said.

"We are here representing the people of the United States who want action to be taken," said Ted Glick, of the Climate Crisis Coalition.

So-called greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, which is generated by burning of fossil fuels like gas, oil and coal, enlarge an atmospheric layer that blocks radiant heat from escaping Earth into space.

Scientists worry that the resulting increased temperatures are melting polar ice caps and heating tropical seas, with unknown and possibly disastrous consequences for Earth's weather, flora and fauna.

Under the new protocol, industrialized nations can invest in "sustainable development projects" in developing countries to earn extra pollution allowances.

The conference last week also debated a new proposal by Papua New Guinea to allocate carbon allowances to developing countries which combat deforestation.

The proposal was welcomed by Canada and Britain, and also Brazil, where deforestation is a huge problem.

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