UN meeting this week to extend greenhouse gas treaty

November 28, 2012

Amid concern about the possible role of climate change in the development of Hurricane Sandy and other severe weather, negotiators from around the world will gather at a United Nations meeting this week and next to extend an expiring agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. That effort is the subject of a story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Cheryl Hogue, C&EN senior correspondent, explains that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol required some industrialized nations to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5 percent from 1997 levels. The U.S. is not among them, having rejected the treaty. The reductions were to take place during the five-year period from 2008 to 2012. Now, negotiators are meeting in Qatar's capital, Doha, to work on an amendment that would create a second round of commitments.

The so-called "Doha amendment" would impose new emissions cuts for certain industrialized nations beginning in 2013. Because some countries bound by the Kyoto deal, like EU member states, are already planning similar reductions, the amendment won't necessarily change anticipated releases of global greenhouse gases. Instead, experts hope it will extend international political momentum to act on climate change after the Kyoto agreement expires this year. Another promise of Doha is a narrower global climate agenda that emphasizes reaching the 2015 agreement over other issues, the story says.
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