Without the blessing of the United States, the world's biggest polluter, environment and energy ministers from around the world, meeting in Morocco, have hammered out a deal on the landmark Kyoto accord to limit global warming. The new rules to reduce gas emissions could go into effect by late next year.
The pact aims to reduce gas emissions from factories and cars that many scientists say contribute to the so-called "greenhouse effect" that could increase average temperatures by up to six degrees Celsius over the next 100 years. This would lead to rising sea levels and an increase in major floods, droughts, tropical cyclones and severe heat waves.
The accord reached in Marrakech commits the world's industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of five percent of 1990 levels by 2012.
Eight months ago, citing concerns about a negative economic impact on the United States, President Bush pulled out of the Kyoto global warming treaty, opting instead to pursue a North American approach to cutting greenhouse gases.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, said the U.S. was looking for a global solution to climate change what would be a combination of national and international measures rather than the single worldwide system provided under the Kyoto pact.
The accord was reached at the end of the two-week U.N. sponsored conference on climate change in Morocco. The agreement was reached after four years of often tortuous negotiations and could be put into force by late next year. However, it must first be ratified by at least 55 countries responsible for 55 percent of the world's 1990 carbon dioxide emissions.
Oliver Deleuze, the European Union's chief delegate at the talks said "The Kyoto process is now irreversible," adding that he believed all countries except the United States would vote to ratify the pact.
Russia and Japan indicated the deal worked out in Marrakech should make their ratifications possible allowing it to come into force without the United States.