Kyoto pact on climate change can be ratified without the United States |

Kyoto pact on climate change can be ratified without the United States

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – A 133-nation bloc of developing nations said Thursday there are enough key countries to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming without the United States, but the pact would be stronger with Washington.

”The caravan is marching forward,” said Iranian Ambassador Bagher Asadi, speaking for the so-called Group of 77, which has expanded since its formation in 1964. ”It would have marched in a more robust manner if the Americans had joined.”

When the United States – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – announced in March that it was withdrawing from the 1997 protocol claiming it would harm its economy, there were fears the accord was dead.

To take force, the accord needs ratification by 55 countries responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for heating up the atmosphere. With the United States opting out, that meant all other industrial nations had to sign on, and Japan, Canada, Australia and Russia were wavering.

But at last month’s conference in Bonn, the holdout countries joined and now the process can continue, Asadi said. In all 178 nations approved the climate change accord in Bonn. The U.S. did not participate in the talks.

”The entire international community resolved to save a decade-old hard won multilateral process despite the withdrawal of the United States,” Asadi said.

”This agreement and this process would be further strengthened, should they rejoin the process. That is a fact, but now they have decided to stand aside. That is their decision,” he said.

The next step toward ratifying the treaty will be at a meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco in October when the final legal language is worked out. Then countries can begin ratifying the protocol, which is targeted to take effect in September, 2002.

Asadi said the group still hopes that the United States will join.

”Let us hope that the Bonn achievement would be found conducive for the early re-engagement of all the members of the process,” he said.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators urged the Bush administration to return to the bargaining table, and have a plan to address climate change by the October international negotiations.

”The United States should demonstrate international leadership and responsibility” by taking steps ”to ensure significant and meaningful reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases from all sectors,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in the resolution it unanimously passed.

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