Tough negotiations have begun between the countries meeting in the Netherlands on how to tackle global warming. But the divisions remain deep and the chances of a meaningful agreement are slim.
France’s president, Jacques Chirac, did not mince his words (= to say exactly what you think even if this may offend people) when he arrived at the international conference on global warming being held in The Hague. Each American, Mr Chirac pointedly remarked, is responsible for emitting three times more greenhouse gases than each Frenchman. Europe is pushing America, the world’s biggest polluter, to take direct action to cut its emissions rather than rely on trading emission cuts with other countries and planting new forests. America, which takes the view that it does not matter to the atmosphere where or how cuts are made, as long as they are made, believes countries should have more flexibility in meeting their emission targets. Europe’s onerous (= work or responsibility that is onerous is difficult and worrying or makes you tired) stance, some on the American side believe, is meant to cut the United States’ economy down to size (= to make someone realize that they are not as important, successful, etc. as they think they are). With such entrenched positions, is any sort of deal likely?
The chances of an agreement have been put at about 50-50 by Jan Pronk, the Dutch environment minister who is chairman of the conference. However, America’s chief negotiator, Frank Loy, who had a cream cake thrown into his face by demonstrators, said on Thursday he felt that some progress had been made. The negotiations are now being held at a high level following the arrival in The Hague of government ministers. Lower-level officials from the 180 countries taking part in the UN-sponsored conference began technical discussions on November 13th. The horse-trading (= the process by which two sides try to reach agreement with each other, e.g. about prices, the details of a... [continues]
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