Washington (AFP) Aug 03, 2007
President George W. Bush has invited the world's major polluters to a September 27-28 conference to set long-term goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental groups have called the plan, which Bush proposed in a speech on May 31, a diversion from other global efforts to combat global warming, while Washington says it complements UN-driven talks on the issue. Bush asked Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and South Korea in separate letters late Thursday to send representatives to Washington for the meeting, officials said Friday.
The US president also invited delegations from Europe -- to include officials from the European Union and representatives from Britain, France, Germany, and Italy -- and the United Nations, the White House said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host the talks in Washington, and the US president will address the meeting.
"The United States is committed to collaborating with other major economies to agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008, which would contribute to a global agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2009," Bush said in his invitation.
"In addition, we expect to place special emphasis on how major economies can, in close cooperation with the private sector, accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies, a critical component of an effective global approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
The United States, the world's number one emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. It expires in 2012.
Bush has cited the pact's exemptions for China and India, as developing nations, from mandatory targets on greenhouse gas output, as a chief reason for not submitting the protocol for Senate ratification.
Both countries -- whose energy-hungry economies are major consumers of oil, gas, and coal -- are fast becoming major emitters of greenhouse gases.
The Union of Concerned Scientists advocacy group said that, given Bush's opposition to Kyoto, the world wanted to see whether he would "put any meaningful proposals on the table."
"Binding commitments to reduce emissions, together with policies that put a price on global warming pollution, are needed to get the job done," said Alden Meyer, UCS director of strategy and policy.
"Until President Bush is willing to accept this reality, the process he is launching next month is unlikely to make any significant contribution to addressing the climate crisis," Meyer said in a statement.
The UN's top official on climate change, Yvo de Boer, said the conference offered an exceptional chance to break the deadlock for tackling greenhouse gases.
"I view it with a lot of hope and expectation. This is the next step in the process and I am very keen to see where it takes us," de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told AFP.
De Boer called on wealthy countries to emulate the European Union (EU) and Japan by offering to slash their carbon emissions at the gathering.
He singled out as a model the EU, which has committed itself to cutting its own emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and promised to deepen this to 30 percent if other big polluters follow suit, and Japan which wants the world to halve emissions by 2050.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week appealed to all countries to do their utmost to seal a new climate change deal by 2009 and have it in force by the time the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
UN negotiations on a new protocol on climate change will begin in earnest at a conference in Bali in December.
And Australian Prime Minister John Howard has flagged climate change as a major topic of talks at the Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) forum Leaders Week in Sydney in September, which Bush is scheduled to attend.
Source: Agence France-Presse
UN Climate Chief Calls On Rich Countries To Make Cuts At Bush Talks
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the talks for long-term emissions reductions in Washington on September 27-28, announced by the White House earlier, offered an exceptional chance to break the deadlock for tackling greenhouse gases.
"I view it with a lot of hope and expectation. This is the next step in the process and I am very keen to see where it takes us," de Boer said in an interview from Bonn with AFP.
"I would like to see a serious commitment from industrialised countries that they will go much further (in offering to cut greenhouse-gas pollution) than what they have already proposed."
De Boer singled out as a model the EU, which has committed itself to cutting its own emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and promised to deepen this to 30 percent if other big polluters follow suit, and Japan which wants the world to halve emissions by 2050.
The Washington conference, gathering major emitters in the rich and developing world as well as representatives from other big emerging economies, will be hosted by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and be addressed by President George W. Bush.
The goal is to agree on "a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008" and this in turn would feed into a global deal under the UNFCCC, Bush said in his invitation, announced on Friday.
Under Bush, the United States has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires rich countries to curb greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
The absence of the world's No. 1 polluter has nearly crippled the treaty, and its future beyond 2012, when its present commitment period runs out, is also uncertain.
Negotiations on the post-2012 treaty take place in Bali, Indonesia, in December under the UNFCCC, which is Kyoto's parent.
The process has been dogged by two problems -- how far big developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil, will pledge to tackle their own pollution, and the unwillingness of the United States to embrace the Kyoto principle of mandatory cuts.
Bush unveiled his initiative ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, in June.
His scheme stirred anxieties among Kyoto's European champions that he sought to subvert the UNFCCC and exclude poor countries by limiting the deal to rich countries.
De Boer said he did not feel any concern on that score, as the G8 summit made clear that the multilateral process was paramount.
"I would describe President Bush as taking climate change by the horns, but I want to see where he and the bull go," he admitted, however.
Bush has always opposed the Kyoto Protocol, arguing its binding caps on emissions would be too costly for the oil-dependent US economy.
He also said it was unfair, as its present format only requires industrial countries, and not fast-growing emerging economies such as China and India, to make such pledges.
These countries reply that they will tackle their pollution as much as they can, provided it does not hurt their rise out of poverty and rich countries, which are historically to blame for global warming, shoulder the main burden.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation
European Heat Waves Double In Length Since 1880
Bern, Switzerland (SPX) Aug 06, 2007
The most accurate measures of European daily temperatures ever indicate that the length of heat waves on the continent has doubled and the frequency of extremely hot days has nearly tripled in the past century. The new data shows that many previous assessments of daily summer temperature change underestimated heat wave events in western Europe by approximately 30 percent. Paul Della-Marta and a team of researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland compiled evidence from 54 high-quality recording locations from Sweden to Croatia and report that heat waves last an average of 3 days now-with some lasting up to 4.5 days-compared to an average of around 1.5 days in 1880.
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