United Nations Climate Conference

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Negotiators at the United Nations Climate Conference failed to reach agreement last week about how to halt rising temperatures on Earth. Representatives from more than one-hundred-sixty countries attended the two-week conference in The Hague, Netherlands. They represented industrial and developing countries and environmental groups.

The negotiators were trying to establish ways to meet the goals of a climate treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan, in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. The treaty calls for industrial countries to reduce the levels of gases that are blamed for trapping heat in the atmosphere. The levels would have to be an average of five percent lower in the year Two-Thousand-Twelve than they were in those countries in Nineteen-Ninety.

Scientists say that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide are causing rising temperatures on Earth. This could affect weather throughout the world, cause oceans to rise, and increase the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

The talks in The Hague ended after the United States and the European Union could not agree about how to carry out the Kyoto agreement. The E-U says industrial countries must reduce carbon dioxide pollution from factories and vehicles to the levels set by the agreement. The United States says such action would hurt economic growth and reduce jobs. It says there are better, less costly ways to reach those goals.

The United States says nations should get credit for existing farmland and forests because these areas take in carbon dioxide. This helps reduce some pollution. The United States also proposed a system of credit trading with countries whose gas pollution levels are below targets set by the Kyoto agreement. The United States, Australia, Canada, and Japan say they cannot reach their targets without such methods.

The E-U rejected the American proposals. It says the United States must do more to reduce its production of harmful gases without help from other countries. Critics said the American plan is unfair and might even lead to an increase in pollution levels.

Another conference has been proposed for early next year to try to reach agreement on ways to meet the goals of the Kyoto climate treaty.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English