7 N.Y.U. Envtl. L.J. 27 (1999)
Common But Differentiated Responsibility: The Kyoto Protocol and United States Policy

handle is hein.journals/nyuev7 and id is 35 raw text is: COMMON BUT DIFFERENTIATED
RESPONSIBILITY: THE KYOTO
PROTOCOL AND UNITED
STATES POLICY
PAUL G. HARIs*
INTRODUCTION
The Framework Convention on Climate Change (Climate
Convention),' signed at the 1992 United Nations Earth Sum-
mit in Rio de Janeiro, is the first international legal instrument
to address climate change and is arguably the most comprehen-
sive international attempt to address adverse changes to the
global environment. The overriding goal of the Convention is
the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmos-
phere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic in-
terference with the climate system.2 Industrialized countries
voluntarily agreed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases
(GHGs) to 1990 levels by 2000.3 Few of those countries, how-
ever, will meet this target. The United States, which contains
only about four percent of the world's population and produces
about one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gases, is expected to
exceed the target by about thirteen percent.4
The Climate Convention is a framework agreement. It lays
out several commitments and principles, but the most important
specific ways in which those provisions will be actualized-i.e.,
which countries will lower GHG emissions and by how much-
* Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics and Modem History, London
Guildhall University; Ph.D., Politics, Brandeis University. This Article is based
on research undertaken at the Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics and
Society at Mansfield College, Oxford University. Research support was pro-
vided by Sun Life Assurance. The author wishes to thank the editors of the
N.YU. Environmental Law Journal for their helpful comments.
1 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: Frame-
work Convention on Climate Change, May 9, 1992, 31 LL.M. 849 [hereinafter
FCCC].
2 Id. art. 2, 31 I.L.M. at 854.
3 See id. art. 4(2)(b), 31 I.L.M. at 857.
4 See ENERGY INFO. ADMIN., ANNUAL ENERGY REVIEW 1996 (1997); EN.
ERGY INFO. ADMIN., EMISSIONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES IN THE UNITED
STATES 1996 (1997).
27

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