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The BBC's Robert Piggott
"Part of a desperate effort to keep the Kyoto Treaty alive"
 real 56k

The BBC's Mike Donkin
"All the major players in the climate change debate are in town"
 real 28k

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister
"I'm very satisfied that the Americans are participating in these discussions"
 real 28k

Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
UN debates Kyoto future
Car fumes on a cold morning
The treaty aims to cut pollution to below 1990 levels
Forty world environment ministers are meeting in New York on Saturday to discuss the future of the Kyoto protocol.

The United Nations' summit has been called in an attempt to salvage a deal following US withdrawal from the agreement last month.

Ministers must now decide whether to press ahead with Kyoto's targets on emissions without the US, the world's biggest polluter, or to try and tempt the Americans back.

John Prescott
Prescott: "The children of tomorrow will not forgive us"
After 10 years of talking, ministers are keen for action.

Britain's John Prescott said: "We need to keep striving for that consensus... or the world today and the children of tomorrow will not forgive us."

The New York summit was called by Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, the UN leader on climate change negotiations.

He said on Wednesday that Washington appeared to have toned down its criticism of Kyoto and that its description of the treaty as "dead" may have been premature.

Leaked memo

He said the US might trade a commitment to plant forests as carbon sinks or buy carbon credits from other nations instead of reducing its emissions to the levels demanded by Kyoto.

Mr Pronk has also said the treaty could be implemented without US participation if it is ratified by 55 countries which produce 55% of global greenhouse emissions.

George W Bush
Bush: Kyoto targets will harm US economy
But further concerns about the US position arose on Friday when a State Department memo was leaked.

The memo, issued on 1 April, states that Washington opposes the Kyoto pact "under any circumstances".

It came days after President George W Bush said the treaty would "seriously harm" the US economy.

The memo suggests the US Government considers climate change solutions based only on market forces and improved technology.

Such a "cavalier attitude" left other countries no choice but to press ahead without the US, said Jennifer Morgan, director of the World Wildlife Fund's climate change campaign.

US emissions rising

The treaty was first agreed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 though details continue to be negotiated.

It broadly calls for industrialised nations to cut emissions to an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012.

The US emits about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases - a rate nearly 15% above its levels in 1990.

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See also:

16 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Greens urge US oil boycott
16 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Prescott pressures US on climate treaty
15 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia gives up on Kyoto
13 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Blair urged to tackle Bush over Kyoto
25 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Analysis: What next?
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
US blow to Kyoto hopes
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
18 Apr 01 | Americas
US urged not to block Kyoto
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