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The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"The Florida Keys have been placed on nature's endangered list"
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Saturday, 22 July, 2000, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
US warning on pollution
Power station
The US wants to buy emission credits to offset pollution
The chief American negotiator on climate change has admitted for the first time that the United States is unlikely to meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions, without buying other countries' pollution rights.

The Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Frank Loy, said a target to cut emissions in the US by a third within 10 years - as set out by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol - was a difficult task.

To meet it, Mr Loy said the US would have to take full advantage of the mechanism by which countries can compensate for heavy pollution levels by buying pollution credits from other countries that do meet their targets.

tornado over town
Global warming could lead to worsening weather conditions
The US is the world's biggest polluter, producing some 35% of the greenhouse gas emissions which lead to global warming.

Environmental groups say poorer countries are having to bear the consequences of global warming, such as floods and hurricanes.

Greater burden

Mr Loy said US commitments made at Kyoto imposed a greater obligation on the US than for other countries.

But, he said, there was no question of trying to renegotiate the treaty at the forthcoming sixth global meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol at the Hague in November

"We are not seeking a change to either dates or numbers, despite recognition of the fact that we have a tough chore," he said.

Emissions trading

The way forward, he said, was to take full advantage of market mechanisms, including emissions trading.

This allows excessively polluting countries to exceed their targets by buying "credits" from others who fall short of their emissions ceiling.

The UK and the rest of the European Union want to limit the amount countries can trade in pollution, but Mr Loy said that attempts to impose restrictions were "conceptually wrong".

Last month, the US Government warned that on present trends, average US temperatures will rise by at least three degrees Celsius by 2100.

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
US warned on warming world
10 May 00 | Sci/Tech
UK 'must make huge carbon cuts'
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Florida Keys under threat
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03 May 00 | Sci/Tech
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