U.N. negotiators begin talking about post-Kyoto actions

Two months before the Kyoto Protocol even takes effect, representatives meeting in Buenos Aires for the annual U.N. conference on climate change are already discussing plans for reducing emissions post-Kyoto. So far, says Eliot Diringer of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, participants have agreed that any future plans need to include roping in “major emitters.” By “major emitters,” of course, he means the U.S. — the biggest contributor to global greenhouse gases — as well as a number of developing nations including the No. 2 emitter, China, and the fifth- and sixth-ranked emitters, India and Brazil. A Chinese negotiator suggested the U.S. might accept a “bottom-up approach” allowing each country to voluntarily determine what steps to take to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, as opposed to the “top-down” concept of Kyoto’s mandatory targets for cutting back emissions of the heat-trapping gases by 2012. Not big fans of forward thinking, Bush administration officials said in response that it is “premature” to be brainstorming on post-2012 plans.

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