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Climate Pact Loopholes Risk Wiping Out Greenhouse Gas Cuts

Loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty risk wiping out emissions reduction pledges made by developed nations for 2020, an alliance of island nations said at United Nations global warming talks in Bonn.

The pact’s rules mean current pledges by developed nations to reduce greenhouse gases by 12 percent to 18 percent by 2020 may end up leading to cuts amounting to just 1 percent to 7 percent from 1990 levels, Al Binger, a delegate from Grenada, told envoys at the meeting. That may wipe out the treaty’s goal of a 5 percent cut agreed from 2008 to 2012.

The loopholes arise from clauses in the protocol that give developed nations flexibility on how they account for greenhouse gases related to forestry and land use changes, as well as permitting countries to roll over unused pollution allowances from the first commitment period into the next one.

If the rules aren’t changed, “we basically will be running on a treadmill,” Binger said in the German city, where five days of talks are being held. “We gain nothing, and our extinction will be virtually assured.”

Binger was speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of 43 low-lying and island nations. The bloc is calling for a 45-percent emissions reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by developed nations by 2020 to stave off rising sea levels that threaten to swamp their land.

Delegates in Bonn are working to iron out differences as they strive to reach a treaty to tackle climate change that eluded world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama in Copenhagen in December. Binger made his presentation late yesterday at a session that continued early today to discuss possible changes to the Kyoto Protocol concerning forestry rules and surplus emissions allowances.

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