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Sep 16, 2009 8:12 AM by Associated Press

North America backs plan to cut greenhouse gases

A treaty aimed at fixing the earth's ozone layer has become the first global environmental agreement to achieve universal ratification. Small island nations yesterday gained North America's powerful backing for the plan to convert the U.N. ozone treaty into a tool for phasing out some of the globe's most powerful climate-warming gases.

The Obama administration announced the United States, Canada and Mexico now support the idea. The treaty, called the Montreal Protocol, has been signed by 196 nations, with East Timor announcing its decision to sign early today.

U.N. officials say they believe there would be millions more cases of cancer and eye cataracts without the treaty. Even so, officials say the damaged ozone layer could take another 40 to 50 years to fully recover.

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