The planet's climate is moving into uncharted territory, as our burning of fossil-fuels and clearances of forests release massive amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the air, chief among them carbon dioxide. Research recently published in the journal Science on ancient air bubbles extracted from drilling more than three kilometres down into Antarctic ice shows prove that the current rate of carbon dioxide increase is unprecedented for the last 650 000 years.
The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was agreed in 1997 and entered into force in February this year, was an initial effort to moderate climate change by setting caps on greenhouse gas emissions of industrialised nations based on 1990 levels. The Protocol was only ever considered a first step however, and its remit extends only until 2012.
Some 10 000 people, including delegations from 190 nations, plus intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations, are gathered at a two-week event in Montreal formally known as the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention, held in conjunction with the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 11/MOP 1) to negotiate what comes next after Kyoto.
Deforestation is proving a popular topic for debate so far. Up to a quarter of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are due to deforestation. However the Kyoto Protocol did not deal with forest conservation, other than to give 'Annex I' countries in the developed world a responsibi
Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency