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U.S., Other Nations Agree Humans Cause Global Warming

August 31, 1990

SUNDSVALL, Sweden (AP) _ The United States for the first time has joined with other nations in declaring that human activity is causing global warming, in a U.N.-sponsored conference that ended early today.

After four days of meetings to consider the most extensive scientific investigation of the Earth’s climate, the 74 delegations unanimously adopted a report that will be a basis for negotiations on future climate treaties.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes spent two years preparing the document, under the auspices of the U.N. Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization.

Scientists and environmentalists described the consensus as a breakthrough because the United States for the first time acknowledged human activity is producing gases that are changing the climate and warming the globe.

But agreement on the future impact of global warming and recommendations on possible action to prevent it were not achieved at the conference.

″As far as effective action and impacts, the report is weak,″ said Jeremy Legget, science director for Greenpeace International. ″But the significant achievement is that finally the United States has acknowledged the global warming is actually happening.″

Fred Bernthal, head of the National Science Foundation and the American delegation, said late Thursday that U.S. acceptance of global warming theories in the document marked a step forward in climate policy.

″We are certain of the following: ... Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases,″ Bernthal said.

″All things being equal, it (the greenhouse effect) might lead to global warming,″ he said.

Bernthal said there is still uncertainty about the magnitude of the problem, and questions about when and where the effects would be felt.

The United States, the largest producer of carbon dioxide, has blocked any international agreement to place mandatory restrictions on emission of the gases that lead to the so-called greenhouse effect.

Carbon dioxide, produced from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal, helps trap warm air around the Earth, scientists say.

The meeting was marked by extensive argument behind closed doors between the Americans, who insisted more research is needed, and European nations committed to an international agreement on restricting carbon dioxide emissions.

The scientific conclusions will form the basis for discussions at the November climate convention in Geneva. The scientists said they hoped an agreement on action will be ready for signing at the June 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil.

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