Kyoto protocol takes another step forward

Some 170 countries meeting in Marrakech have agreed the operational rules safeguarding the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. At the seventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change (COP7), the political framework for the Protocol thrashed out in July at the COP6 meeting in Bonn was converted into legal texts, allowing the protocol to become operational. After two weeks of negotiations, the talks ended on November 10 with agreement on a package of rules, including penalties for states that do not fulfil their Kyoto commitments and "flexible mechanisms" for achieving CO2 reduction targets. These include a prompt start for the clean development mechanism (CDM), through which developed countries can invest in green projects built anywhere -- such as a wind project -- and be credited for the emissions saved. With the architecture of the protocol in place, all countries who have signed up will aim to ratify and bring it into force by the World Summit for Sustainable Development in September 2002. The EU claims credit for its "instrumental" role in securing the deal in Marrakech. Yet Greenpeace says Marrakech represents a lost opportunity and a hard won battle for a token outcome and "Governments may be congratulating themselves now, but what have they really achieved?" asks Bill Hare from Greenpeace.

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