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Australia, Saudi Take Early Lead For Gaffes At UN Climate Parley

Map of Australia.
by Staff Writers
Nairobi (AFP) Nov 9, 2006
Australia and Saudi Arabia have taken the early lead in an unofficial contest for the dubious distinction of committing the worst gaffes at a UN climate conference here. Australia, for claiming it is as vulnerable to global warming as Africa and the Pacific, and Saudi Arabia, for demanding access to climate change relief funds, won the top two spots Thursday in the first "Fossil of the Day" awards run by an unofficial conference newsletter.

As delegates from 189 nations gathered for the fourth day of the conference, environmentalists gave first place to Canberra, whose delegation on Monday said the wealthy country was on par with some of the world's most impoverished.

"Given that Australia is a developed country that has funds (the comparison) is not appropriate," said Julie-Anne Richards of the Climate Action Network that publishes the newsletter, "ECO."

"I would really hope that the Australian delegation would take note and become more constructive," said Richards, herself an Australian.

"Fossil of the Day," which made its debut in Thursday's edition of ECO, attempts to shame countries for outlandish claims and unreasonable demands made at the 12th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As such, oil-rich Saudi Arabia finished a narrow second to Australia for demanding equal treatment in the so-called "Adaptation Fund" set up by the Kyoto Protocol to help poor countries cope with the effects of global warming.

"The Adaptation Fund must focus on giving money to the most vulnerable countries," the award citation said of the Saudi demand.

Australia is not a party to Kyoto, but it and Saudi Arabia shared third place for a 6:00pm (1500 GMT) limit on debate at the meeting, which is dealing with complex and fractious issues that environmentalists say need more time.

"The motivation is to try and point out when a delegation is behaving badly and try and encourage them to work to move forward on the negotiations rather than to obstruct them," Richards said of the awards.

ECO published Monday and Tuesday's citations together and the second day's top prize was awarded to Canada for allegedly misrepresenting its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ottawa's delegation told the conference it would reduce emissions by between 45 to 65 percent by 2050 but neglected to mention the figure was not based the 1990 benchmark level as required by Kyoto.

"The problem? It did not state the reductions were based on a 2003 base year and not 1990," the citation said, noting that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 24 percent between 1990 and 2003.

Saudi Arabia reappeared in Tuesday's standing, tying for third place with Kuwait for urging the conference to drop discussions on including aviation and maritime emissions in the Kyoto reduction scheme, ECO said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Impoverished Africa Shudders Under Global Warming Threat
Nairobi (AFP) Nov 9, 2006
Already faced with recurring cycles of flood, drought and crop failures, Africa and its 800 million people are on collision course with devastation from unchecked global warming, experts say. The world's poorest and least developed continent is also most at risk from climate change, an ironic twist as it produces the least warming-causing greenhouse gases of any of Earth's inhabited continents, they say.

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