Two months from now comes a landmark day in planetary history: the Kyoto Protocol finally comes into legal force on 16 February 2005. However Kyoto was intended only as an initial step in mitigating climate change: a 6000-strong Buenos Aires gathering due to conclude today has spent a fortnight discussing follow-up strategies, with ESA among them.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to lessen the effects of climate change by setting targets for industrialised countries to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide. Fossil fuel burning and land use change since the start of the Industrial Revolution has led to the highest level of atmospheric carbon dioxide for 160 000 years. The fact that human-induced change in the make-up of the air is leading inexorably to higher global temperatures is a settled matter of scientific fact. What remains to be settled is the likely future extent of climate change, and what collective strategy should be undertaken to follow Kyoto.
Since 6 December delegates from almost 200 countries have been gathered in the Argentinean capital to discuss this problem: how to mitigate climate change, and how to adapt. This event is the latest in a sequence of annual gatherings, known as the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 10). With Kyoto on the verge of becoming effective, countries that have ratified the Protocol - and therefore having committed themselves to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases - have been discussing and negotiating the details of what information should be required to report to show compliance.
Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
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