Greenhouse gas emissions by 40 industrialized nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty have dropped an average of 5% below 1990 levels, U.N. officials reported Monday.
The 1997 treaty required the industrialized nations that signed it to collectively reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other warming gases by about 5% below 1990 levels by 2012 — the amount now reached.
But the drop reported Monday was attributed mostly to economic decline in former communist eastern European countries in the 1990s. The United Nations warned that an upward tick for industrial and developing nations between 2000 and 2006 threatens to undo the previous drop.
Emissions for 40 industrialized nations that joined the treaty collectively rose 2.3% during those six years.
That's a worrisome trend, the U.N.'s climate chief said as the organization prepared to meet in Poznan, Poland next month to agree on a broad framework for replacing the Kyoto treaty. The U.N. hopes to hammer out a new treaty a year later in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"The figures clearly underscore the urgency for the U.N. negotiating process to make good progress in Poznan and move forward quickly in designing a new agreement to respond to the challenge of climate change," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Bonn-based climate secretariat.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed by 183 nations but rejected by President George W. Bush over concerns it would harm the economy of the U.S., which has been the world's biggest emitter but is now rivaled by China.
Among industrialized nations, 16 are on target to meet their Kyoto obligations including France, the UK, Greece and Hungary, the U.N. said.
The U.N. report said 20 countries were lagging, including Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain. Information on other countries was incomplete.
Experts say a new deal should be signed at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen so it can be ratified in time to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.
Discussions at the Dec. 1-12 climate conference in Poznan will be based on a 2007 accord reached in Bali, Indonesia, when the United States, India and China indicated they would participate.
The three nations — among the world's largest polluters — have not taken part in efforts under the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. refused to ratify the treaty, largely because Bush said it would cost the U.S. economy some 5 million jobs and he believed that rapidly developing economies such as India and China should also have to face climate obligations.
De Boer said he did not expect U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to send a representative to Poznan. But he said he expected the U.S. delegation would not be dismissed as a "lame duck" group and would "participate fully" in the negotiations.