Environment ministers of the 15 members of the European Union have agreed to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming. The EU will now complete ratification of the treaty by 1 June, 2002.
The group warned that diplomatic efforts to ensure full ratification must not subside if Kyoto is to come into force before the Earth Summit in Johannesburg this August as agreed. Since US president Bush's rejection of the treaty last March, the EU has played a central role in keeping the Kyoto Protocol afloat. Without the USA, almost all other developed countries must ratify the treaty if it is to come into force.
The European Commission said: "By taking this decision, the EU has reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing multilateral solutions to issues of global concern." The EC will have to decide each of its member countries' individual emissions targets, as EU member governments failed to set their own emission levels to meet Kyoto targets. The EU as a whole is committed to cutting emissions by 8% from 1990 levels over the period between 2008 and 2012.
The treaty's rules stipulate that 55 countries, who between them must have accounted for at least 55% of industrialised countries' 1990 emissions, must ratify the Protocol for it to become international law. This must happen 90 days before the world summit on sustainable development (the Earth Summit) if the target for ratification is to be met.
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