UN climate conference takes small step forward

The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — The U.N. climate conference ended Friday with agreement on next steps toward negotiating future cuts in global-warming gases, a slow-paced timetable reflecting hopes the United States, China and others eventually will sign on to the program.

Delegates from the 165 member nations of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, approved a schedule of talks unlikely to produce a deal on post-Kyoto emissions reductions before 2009.

Environmentalists called the timetable a modest step at best. There’s a need “to inject greater urgency and momentum into the process of driving down global emissions,” said the environment ministers of Germany and Britain, Ingmar Gabriel and David Miliband.

The 1997 Kyoto pact obliges 35 industrial nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States and Australia are the only major industrial countries to reject that accord.

President Bush contends it would damage the U.S. economy and should have imposed cuts on poorer countries, too.

Under the key agreement in Nairobi, future meetings will review the workings of the Kyoto Protocol by 2008 with an eye toward setting new quotas on carbon dioxide and other emissions after Kyoto expires.

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