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United States Signs the Kyoto Protocol

Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
U.S. Department of State, November 12, 1998
(Link to Spanish version.)
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The United States will today sign the Kyoto Protocol, reaffirming its commitment to work with countries around the world to meet the challenge of global warming. The Protocol will be signed at the United Nations in New York by Acting U.N. Ambassador Peter Burleigh.

By joining other major industrialized countries as an original signatory to the Protocol, the United States ensures its ability to continue playing a strong role on issues left unresolved in Kyoto. These include meaningful participation by key developing countries and the rules and guidelines for implementing Kyoto's flexibility mechanisms, including international emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism.

The United States signs the Protocol in the firm belief that it will serve its environmental, economic and national security goals.

Signing vs. Ratification

Signing the Kyoto Protocol, while an important step forward, does not make the agreement binding on the United States or impose any obligation to implement it. The Protocol can be ratified by the United States only with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. President Clinton has made clear that he will not submit the Protocol to the Senate until there is meaningful participation by key developing countries in addressing climate change. To date, 59 other countries have signed the Protocol, and two have ratified it.

Progress Since Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol is an historic step forward in international efforts to address global warming, combining ambitious environmental targets with flexible market-based mechanisms to minimize the cost of meeting them.

In the year since Kyoto, new findings have reinforced the strong scientific consensus that human activities are affecting the climate. The most recent El Nino offered a window on the kinds of extreme weather that global warming may bring.

The United States continues to strengthen its domestic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, launching new partnerships with industry and taking new steps to reduce federal energy use. President Clinton secured over $1 billion in the fiscal year 1999 budget to support research and development in energy efficiency and renewable energy -- a 25 percent increase. At the same time, a growing number of leading corporations are publicly recognizing the threat of climate change and voluntarily pledging to reduce their emissions. During the coming year, President Clinton will seek further increases in federal investment to address global warming.

[end of document]

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