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An agreement on global warming reached by the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. The major industrial nations pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012. (See greenhouse effect.) Although the American delegation signed the protocol, the United States Senate has refused to ratify the treaty, mainly because it believes that the targeted reductions are so steep that they will produce a severe economic slump.
Note: Attacking the U.S. position as selfish, European governments have been extremely critical of the U.S. refusal to ratify the protocol.
international treaty, named for the Japanese city in which it was adopted in December 1997, that aimed to reduce the emission of gases that contribute to global warming. In force since 2005, the protocol called for reducing the emission of six greenhouse gases in 36 countries to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels in the "commitment period" 2008-12. It was widely hailed as the most significant environmental treaty ever negotiated, though some critics questioned its effectiveness.