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A New Plan to Help Earth’s Changing Climate

Leaders from 192 countries are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark December 7-18, 2009 to decide how the world will deal with climate change. They are trying to decide how to limit the amount of greenhouse gases sent into the atmosphere, how to slow global warming, and how to adapt to the changing environment.

They are trying to make a new global climate treaty. It may take months or years for them to come to agreement. Not all countries see eye-to-eye about how greenhouse gases should be reduced, which countries should make changes, and who will pay the cost of slowing the rate of global warming.

This climate treaty is seen as an important step in tackling the global warming challenge, but it not the first step that these countries have made.

For almost two decades world leaders have been working together to reduce the amount of global warming caused by humans. Representatives from 192 countries signed a treaty in 1992 called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The treaty set up a way for the nations to meet each year to decide what to do about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

During their yearly meetings, they developed the Kyoto Protocol. This agreement aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries about 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. Of the 192 United Nations countries, 187 signed the Kyoto Protocol. The United States did not sign. According to the United Nations, the 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be met by 2012, however not all countries have met their goal. While some countries have reduced emissions far more than they were required, others have increased emissions.

The new global climate treaty that is being discussed in Copenhagen will replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Last modified December 7, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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