From Kyoto to Copenhagen to Cancun to Rangoon: Successes and Failures in International Climate Negotiations
In 1992, the United Nations (UN) Convention on Climate Change urged UN members to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to limit global warming and climate change. In 1997, international negotiations established the Kyoto Treaty in which 160 signatory nations agreed to achieve specific reductions by the period 2008 to 2012. While the overall commitment was to reduce GHG emissions to a level 5.2 per cent lower than 1990 levels, nations committed to various percentage reductions. Each signatory would determine how it wished to reach its target, and no penalties were threatened to those who might not reach their goal. By 2001, when the time came to ratify the treaty, various credits were provided to some nations for "carbon sinks," particularly for existing forests. Even with such concessions, the United States refused to sign, and so did most developing nations. The Kyoto protocol proceeded at very different speeds in different nations. International negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Cancun in 2010 attempted to add clarity to the intentions of signatories. However, many significant details had not yet been addressed. Future negotiations in Rangoon and elsewhere would be necessary.