International Action

Notwithstanding the greenhouse skeptics, the scientific community was active among the governments of industrialized nations and in particular, those in Europe.5 In 1988 the United Nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with strong support from the epistemic community.6 The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, projected an average increase in global temperature of from 1 to 3 degrees Centigrade by the year 2100. Negotiations among nations led to the construction of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), which was adopted by the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

As Soroos notes, the Framework Convention set the broad terms for negotiation, ultimately leading to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.7 The FCCC set a broad goal of reducing human interference with the global climate system. It acknowledged that the economically developed countries bore most of the responsibility for an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. Finally, it called on these countries (called the Annex I countries in the Kyoto Protocol) to reduce GHG emissions to the 1990 levels by the year 2000. It was at the third Conference of the Parties (COP) to the FCCC, held in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, that the Protocol was signed, pledging economically developed countries to reduction targets.8 To ease American objections to the treaty, negotiators accepted several "flexibility mechanisms," enlarging the means countries could use to meet reduction targets, and "joint implementation" ventures giving credits to EDCs for emission reductions investments they made in LDCs.

The American withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 seemed to jeopardize the Kyoto Protocol, which required ratification by countries emitting 55 percent of the global total of GHG. However, the international legal process concluded in late 2004 when the Russian Duma and President Putin agreed to the accord.

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