Britain and Sweden are on target for reducing global-warming gases, but other countries will have to toughen policies and rely on "carbon trading" to achieve their Kyoto Protocol goals by 2012, says a new U.N. report.
In the United States, meanwhile, emissions of so-called greenhouse gases climbed by 16 percent between 1990 and 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in its latest assessment. The United States, by far the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming, rejects the Kyoto pact on reductions.
Against this backdrop of rising emissions and discord over what to do about them, delegates from more than 160 nations on May 26 wrapped up two weeks of semiannual U.N. sessions in Bonn, Germany, on how to confront the threat of climate change.
On one track, they began talks on a stricter regime of emissions cuts for Kyoto nations after the 2012 expiration of that 1997 agreement, named for the Japanese city where it was negotiated. On a second, less formal track, they began a "dialogue," including U.S. representatives, to try to draw Washington and other outsiders into the mandatory controls system.
"Both tracks got going in a fairly smooth way," Richard Kinley, chief U.N. organizer of the sessions, told The Associated Press. "It means there will be some very intensive talks in the next two, three years." Scientists, meanwhile, are reporting mounting evidence of climate change:
¢ NASA satellite monitoring shows Greenland glaciers dumping water into the sea at twice the rate of 1996. Such melting land ice is helping raise sea levels.
¢ The sea around the South Pacific island of Tonga has risen 4 inches in 13 years, Australian measurements show.
¢ Warmer water, followed by disease, has killed about one-third of coral reefs at official monitoring sites in the Caribbean since last year.
¢ Globally the year 2005 was either the warmest or second-warmest since record keeping began in the mid-19th century, according to NASA and the World Meteorological Organization. The warming is accelerating, boosting the mercury every decade by more than 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit, NASA says.
For more than a decade, a U.N.-organized network of scientists has warned of shifting climate zones, rising oceans and more extreme weather events if emissions of heat-trapping gases were not reined in.