Kyoto Parties Agree Loosely on Long-Term Emissions Goals

September 5, 2007

A round of international climate change talks held in late August in Vienna, Austria, concluded with an agreement on the rough framework needed to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere at safe levels. The talks, held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), led to the official recognition that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and must then be reduced to very low levels, as indicated by recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to a special working group at the meeting, avoiding the most catastrophic events forecast by the IPCC would entail emissions reductions by industrialized countries in the range of 25% to 40% below 1990 levels. Because of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, which gives industrialized countries credit for financing emission-reducing projects in developing countries, such an emissions goal in industrialized countries could ultimately spur efforts to cut emissions in developing countries, as well. A key feature of the talks was a United Nations report that showed how energy efficiency could yield significant cuts in emissions at low cost. The talks are meant to set the stage for a major international meeting to be held in Bali in December. See the UNFCCC Web site for the press releases on the agreement (PDF 133 KB) and the report (PDF 52 KB), for the full report (PDF 748 KB), and for information on the special working group. Download Adobe Reader.

Climate change will also be a topic of discussion at the leaders meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which President Bush is participating in on September 8th. President Bush announced in late May that the United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. See the White House press release and the APEC Web site, and for background, see the article on President Bush's announcement from the June 6th edition of the EERE Network News.