Tuesday, November 29, 2005

U.S. storm brewing at UN climate summit in Montreal

The first United Nations climate conference since the Kyoto agreement came into force in February has opened with the US still resisting targets.






Delegates meeting in the Canadian city of Montreal are to discuss how targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the next seven years will be met. They will also look at what measures will follow in 2012 when Kyoto expires.

As the talks opened, Canada urged wider participation in measures to tackle "a terrible danger for the planet".

The host government is trying to find a formula which would enable the US, other industrialised countries and the developing nations to unite under a combined statement on future action.

Thousands of scientists, officials and environmentalists are attending 12 days of talks.

The US, which fears the Kyoto deal could harm development and economic growth, said it would resist the Canadian proposal. The one thing that we don't want to see, and cannot afford, is to allow this US administration to hold the rest of the world hostage

President Bush's chief environmental advisor, James Connaughton, made clear the US would not support binding targets.

"We don't need them," he told reporters, pushing the case that "many of the more consequential initiatives [on cutting emissions] have occurred outside of a treaty process."

Because the US has not ratified Kyoto, it will take no formal part in discussions held under its provisions.

However, the Americans do have a place at the table in Montreal, because they are participants in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - the broader agreement which gave rise to the legally binding protocol.

Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion said he was interested in seeking a rapprochement amongst countries with different views on the best approach to tackling climate change.

"Let us set our sights on a more effective, more inclusive long-term approach to climate change... More action is required now," he said at the opening of the conference.
Environmental pressure groups argue it is pointless to attempt to re-engage the Bush administration on meaningful worldwide action on global warming.

"The one thing... we cannot afford is to allow this US administration to hold the rest of the world hostage while they go on about voluntary this and voluntary that," Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace told the BBC.

UK government officials, negotiating on behalf of the EU as Britain holds the current presidency, are determined to use the Montreal talks to demonstrate that binding targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions are here to stay.

They also believe flexibility will be needed in the measures developing countries may be persuaded to adopt to limit the growth in their own emissions as their economies expand.

The BBC's correspondent in Montreal, Liz Blunt, says even big emitters of CO2 like India and China may be happy to reduce emissions if they can do it without hampering their rapid development.


My Source BBC

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