According to Reuters, numerous countries will be meeting through Dec. 9 in Durban, South Africa, to try to save the Kyoto Protocol, a major agreement set to curb climate change. The ratifying countries will have to agree on a new set of targets before the first commitment period ends next year.
There is increasing tension over the Kyoto Protocol, especially since the U.S. has not ratified it and China refuses to commit unless the U.S. does. Similarly, Russia, Japan and Canada have stated that they will not commit to the second round of targets unless the biggest contributors also agree to. With this meeting under way, here are some facts about the Kyoto Protocol:
* The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reported that the protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on Dec. 11, 1997, following numerous talks and meetings and was finally implemented on Feb. 16, 2005.
* The international agreement initially set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, an average of five percent lower than the 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
* Although then Vice President Al Gore was a major supporter of the agreement, both the Clinton and Bush administrations failed in 1997 and again in 2001 to commit the U.S. to it, according to Associated Content.
* Opponents in the U.S. cited that the treaty could be detrimental to the American economy and that by China and India being exempt, it would not target two up and coming emitters.
* The Sydney Morning Herald noted that in 2007, Australia, another large holdout country, finally ratified the Kyoto Protocol right after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was sworn into office and the country became a full member of the agreement in March 2008.
* Originally, Australia agreed to international treaty to slow global warming but then later refused to ratify it.
* As of November of this year, 192 countries have committed to the set targets and efforts to reduce their domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
* Other recent ratifying countries include Iraq, Brunei Darussalam, Tajikistan, Turkey, Zimbabwe, San Marino, Kazakhstan and Somalia.
* The Associated Press reported that at the treaty talks that began this Monday, the spotlight has been put on Canada, which has yet to confirm if it will formally pull out of the second round of agreements.
* Current environmental minister of Canada Peter Kent has continued to assert that Canada's commitment to Kyoto was a major mistake.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.