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IN THE NEWS - Two Years of Talks Lie Ahead to Write a New Global Warming Treaty

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech in Bali
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives a speech in Bali

Ten thousand delegates from one hundred ninety countries attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia. It ended last Saturday with an agreement to begin negotiations for a new treaty on global warming. The new treaty will replace the Kyoto Protocol when parts of that treaty end in two thousand twelve.

Most countries seemed pleased with the steps taken in Bali. The agreement is being called the Bali Roadmap. It took thirteen days to reach the agreement, one day longer than planned. A major area of dispute in the final hours was whether to include detailed goals for reductions in the release of heat-trapping gases.

The European Union led a group of countries and environmentalists that wanted to include them. But a group led by the United States and including Canada, Japan and Saudi Arabia objected.

In the end, the American delegation accepted a compromise. Emissions targets were made into a footnote at the end of the document. The road map calls for emission levels recorded in two thousand to be cut in half by two thousand fifty. But future negotiations will decide whether or not detailed goals are included in a final treaty.

The next step will be two years of negotiations on a new treaty. Conferences are planned for Warsaw next year and Copenhagen in two thousand nine.

U.N. climate scientists warned this year of the risk of disaster unless emissions are reduced sharply by two thousand twenty. The scientists say there is a danger of rising seas, severe droughts and extinctions of plants and animals.

The U.N. scientists shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, the former American vice president. Speaking in Bali, he said the United States was mainly responsible for blocking progress at the conference. He spoke before the agreement was announced in Bali.

In Washington, President Bush this week signed into law a major energy bill. Among other things, cars and light trucks will have to average five more kilometers per liter of fuel by two thousand twenty.

The bill aims to reduce the nation's dependence on oil and to limit harm to the environment. But shortly after the signing, federal officials rejected a proposal by California to increase restrictions on vehicle emissions in that state.

California was seeking permission from the Environmental Protection Agency to set pollution rules that go further than current federal law. But the head of the agency said the Bush administration is moving forward with what he called a clear national solution. He said this is better than if individual states were to act alone and set their own rules.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he plans to sue the federal government. The E.P.A. refusal also affects sixteen other states that want to set their own carbon dioxide limits on cars and trucks.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.

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