What has happened about global warming in international diplomacy?

A UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted by more than 160 nations at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It set a goal of stabilizing global temperature and provides for annual conferences to negotiate agreements until this goal is reached. The United States President signed and the Senate ratified the Framework Convention in 1993.

At the 1997 conference in Kyoto, Japan the industrialized nations adopted the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the Framework Convention, in which they each agreed to make specific emissions reductions by 2012. The U.S. reduction is to be 6-7% below its 1990 level, which is about 30% below the level of U.S. emissions otherwise projected for 2012. At Kyoto, some important decisions about implementation were postponed. At the Hague Conference, which took place shortly after the 2000 U.S. presidential election, the European Union (EU) insisted that every nation should reduce its domestic emissions. The U.S. did not agree. The U.S. also continued to press developing nations to limit their emissions as a condition for U.S. ratification. The developing nations, led by China and India, insisted that the industrialized nations begin making reductions before they would consider limits.

Soon after taking office President George W. Bush stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on the grounds that it could hinder the U.S. economy. This position has generated a great deal of negative publicity in the U.S. and in Europe. In the summer of 2001, the other 178 parties to the UN Framework came to final agreement on the terms of the Kyoto Protocol without the U.S.. Enough of the industrialized nations have now ratified the Protocol so that it will take effect without U.S. participation if Russia ratifies it (which is now doubtful). However, it will not be possible to significantly slow global warming without U.S. cooperation.