[Excerpted from The Korea Times, 03 March 1997]

Int'l Talks Resume on Accord to Limit Greenhouse Gases

Talks aimed at obliging industrialized nations to take concrete steps to reduce their emissions of ``greenhouse gases'' resumed Monday at Bad Godesberg near Bonn after an unsuccessful attempt in December to thrash out a protocol accord.

At the Geneva meeting, the same delegates failed in a bid to draft the framework of a binding protocol accord which would make it mandatory to adopt measures early next century to slash carbon dioxide emissions and other gases blamed for causing global warming.

The United States is reluctant to agree to mandatory curbs by 2005, as many small island states directly threatened by climatic change and a rise in sea level, are demanding.

The Europeans are divided but appear committed to reaching agreement before the summer, in time for the protocol to be adopted in December in Kyoto by the 150 countries which ratified the Rio Convention on climatic change at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.

Two other rounds of negotiation are due to be held between now and then in Bonn where the U.N. convention on climatic change is now based.

European Union ministers took part Sunday and Monday night in Brussels for an ``environment council'' to discuss compromise proposals put forward by the Dutch presidency to ``break the deadlock in the talks.''

Dutch Environment Minister Margreet de Boer is proposing a formula under which greenhouse gases would be slashed by 8.0 percent in 2005 and a further 13 percent in 2010.

The rules would be adaptable according to the degree of development of each country. Least industrialized countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland could continue to increase their emissions by between five and 25 percent in 2010. Sweden would be allowed to push up emissions by five percent to give it time to halt its nuclear energy program.

All the other countries would have to cut down their emissions, some drastically; by 40 percent for Luxembourg, 30 percent in Germany, 20 percent each for Britain, Italy and Finland, 10 percent for the Netherlands and five percent for France.

Finland has already criticized the target as too harsh and has called for a ``more equitable'' breakdown.

Outside Europe, the United States which reinvigorated the negotiations in Geneva by agreeing that the Kyoto protocol should be legally binding, now appears to be dragging its feet along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States, which is the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases, has refused to consider any binding restrictions before 2010.

The Americans are pushing for ``maximum flexibility'', with each country free to decide how it will achieve the target levels.

But US political leaders may have been spurred to take more decisive action following a recent call by 2,000 economists including six Nobel laureates who said global warning was not just an environmental threat but involved ``economic, social and geopolitical'' dangers.