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What the Global-Warming Pact Requires

Here are some of the key points of the agreement reached Thursday in Kyoto, Japan, aimed at cutting the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide:

* REDUCTIONS: In the period 2008 to 2012, 38 industrialized nations are required to reduce their "greenhouse" gas emissions to levels below those in 1990. The European Union nations must reduce them by 8 percent, the United States by 7 percent, and Japan by 6 percent.

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Some would face smaller reductions, and a few would not face any. Altogether, it amounts to a reduction of slightly more than 5 percent.

* GASES INVOLVED: Emissions of six gases would be affected: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and three halocarbons used as substitutes for ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons.

* OFFSHORE REDUCTIONS: Countries that do not meet their own emission targets can strike deals with those nations that do better than required, to buy the excess "quota." This may encourage reductions to be made where most cost-effective.

* ENFORCEMENT: A later meeting of the treaty parties will decide on "appropriate and effective" ways to deal with noncompliance.

* THIRD WORLD: Developing countries, including major greenhouse gas emitters such as China and India, are asked to set voluntary reduction targets.

* NEXT STEP: The accord approved by the Kyoto conference takes effect once it is ratified by 55 nations, representing 55 percent of 1990 carbon-dioxide emissions. It is binding on individual countries only once their governments complete ratification.

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