November 6, 1999

Ministers Vow to Control Greenhouse Gases


BONN -- Environmental ministers pledged on Thursday to lower emissions of greenhouse gases to combat global warming. But they did not take concrete steps.

Despite American reservations and objections by Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters, most countries said at a United Nations conference on the climate that they wanted a 1997 agreement on reducing emissions to take effect by 2002, the German environment minister, Jürgen Trittin, said.

Most scientists agree that gases, like those from burning coal and vehicle exhausts, cause the atmosphere to warm up. They said that last year was the hottest on record, although it remains to be seen if warm weather in recent years is part of a trend or a natural variation.

Much of the meeting here covered technical details and planned a meeting next year in the Netherlands that is to set emission targets for industrial countries. The delegates failed to agree on monitoring and "emissions trading," which would let industrialized nations "buy" credits from other countries to achieve reduction targets.

Congress has argued that the Kyoto protocol did not obligate developing nations.

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