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ENVIRONMENT REPORT - November 16, 2001: Marrakech Agreement - 2001-11-15

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Negotiators from more than one-hundred-sixty countries have agreed on an international treaty to control global warming. Almost four-thousand delegates attended the two-week conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

The talks included representatives of countries who signed an agreement about climate change in Kyoto, Japan, in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. The delegates in Morocco agreed on ways to put the treaty into effect.

The Kyoto treaty requires about forty industrial countries to reduce carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Scientists believe these so-called greenhouse gases are causing the Earth’s atmosphere to become too warm.

The Kyoto treaty requires industrial countries to reduce their release of greenhouse gases by about five-percent below the levels of Nineteen-Ninety. That must be done by the year Two-Thousand-Twelve. Reducing these gases will come mainly from industries restricting the burning of coal and oil. The industrial countries that release fifty-five percent of the world’s greenhouse gases must approve the agreement before it can take effect.

Negotiators in Marrakech agreed on rules to guide the treaty. The rules govern the way countries report, observe and confirm the release of greenhouse gases. The rules punish countries that fail to meet their targets. The agreement also creates a trading program. It permits major industrial countries to buy “credits” from countries with low pollution levels or that invest heavily in anti-pollution technology.

The agreement was reached Saturday on the last day of the conference after eighteen hours of difficult talks. Japan, Russia and Australia called for more compromises in the rules before they would agree to the deal.

The agreement does not include the United States. President Bush withdrew from the Kyoto treaty in March. Mister Bush said the measures would hurt the American economy. He also said the agreement is unfair because it does not include developing countries that are heavy polluters.

Some environmental groups say the Kyoto treaty will be less effective without the United States. The United States releases more greenhouse gases than any other country.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.