Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol, Bali Negotiations, and International Actions [Updated November 20, 2007]   [open pdf - 173KB]

"The concerns over climate change, often termed 'global warming,' have emerged both in the United States and internationally as major policy issues. Reports in 2007 of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided additional scientific underpinnings for these concerns, and the number of proposals and international meetings devoted to these issues has grown significantly during this year, as discussed in this report. The first treaty to address climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was completed and opened for signature in 1992. The resulting Kyoto Protocol, which was completed in 1997 and entered into force in February 2005, committed industrialized nations that ratify it to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of the six major greenhouse gases. The United States has not ratified the Protocol, and thus is not bound by its provisions. In March 2001, the Bush Administration rejected the Kyoto Protocol, and subsequently announced a U.S. policy for climate change that relies on voluntary actions to reduce the 'greenhouse gas intensity' (ratio of emissions to economic output) of the U.S. economy by 18% over the next 10 years. As of November 2007, the UNFCCC Secretariat listed 174 nations and the European Union as parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Annual meetings of the parties continue, and attention at the meeting in Bali, Indonesia, December 3-14, 2007, will focus on finding agreement on a framework for negotiating a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. Major challenges include finding agreement on the nature of commitments, if any, that would prove acceptable to all major players: current parties, developing countries that are major emitters, and the United States."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33826
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