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Last-minute compromise saves Kyoto accord

Published Jul 23, 2001

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South African environmental affairs Minister Valli Moosa has welcomed what he called the successful outcome of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which was rescued from falling apart by an eleventh-hour compromise in Bonn on Monday.

Speaking on his return from the German city where he took part in the negotiations, Moosa said the agreement would go a long way towards ensuring the effects of climate change were mitigated.

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The Kyoto Protocol on global warming was adopted by nearly 180 countries in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. It commits 38 industrialised countries to cutting their emissions of greenhouse gases to 5,2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

These gases, say scientists, are causing the earth to warm up, and inflict potentially disastrous climate changes such as longer droughts and floods.

The protocol was threatened by United States President George W Bush's announcement in March this year that the accord was "fundamentally flawed", and would not be submitted to the US senate for ratification.

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The US is the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, accounting for a quarter of all emissions.

Some observers have questioned the effectiveness of such a protocol without US agreement.

However, agreement - without the US - was finally reached on Monday after a European Union concession allowing some countries to offset their emission targets.

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Monday's signing ends four years of wrangling over the rules and limits of the protocol.

Moosa said the agreement was "a victory for the peoples of the world and a boost to the success of the World Summit".

The World, or Earth Summit, is to be held in Johannesburg next year.

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Moosa said in a statement: "The successful conclusion of these negotiations means that the World Summit agenda can be focused on other substantial issues, critical for development and poverty alleviation in the developing world."

It was South Africa's view that the co-operation of all nations in respecting the agreement was critical to its success.

Moosa further called on the US to "come on board" the agreement and join the rest of the world in securing a cleaner and brighter future. - Sapa

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