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G8, Emerging Powers Debate Climate Change In London

"The solutions will come in the end, in part at least, through the private sector in developing the technology and science," Blair said.

London (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
The world's industrial powers engaged in talks Tuesday with emerging economic dynamos including China and India to thrash out ways to develop clean energy technology and sustainable energy sources.

Meeting in London, energy and environment ministers from the Group of Eight nations and the likes of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa sought common ground on the pressing issue of climate change.

"The focus of our agenda for this meeting is on energy, and on how we can make better use of technology to make the transition to a low-carbon economy," said British environment minister Margaret Beckett, who chaired the dialogue.

She also told delegates that the business community needed to be fully involved if countries wanted to achieve substantial emissions reductions, spelling out an alternative of extreme weather conditions and the death of endangered species.

"If we are to bend the emissions curve and make deep cuts, not in the distant future but starting now, we need to put our money where our mouth is, and to make it profitable for private investors to do the same," she said.

"Technology is essential to make the transition to a low-carbon economy."

G8 leaders decided on the meeting with up-and-coming nations at their July summit in Scotland, to widen the global discussion on climate change to the developing world.

The 20 nations that are expected to consume the most energy in the coming 30 to 40 years were invited, alongside the World Bank and the International Energy Agency.

Alan Johnson, Britain's trade and industry minister, who also attended the talks at stately Lancaster House in central London, said climate change was the "political, environmental and economic issue of our time".

"More and more businesses are becoming aware that helping tackle climate change is not just a cost, but an opportunity as well."

Environmentalists feared, however, that the meeting would merely produce frothy statements rather than concrete proposals for a forthcoming UN conference in Montreal.

The November 28 and December 9 meeting is to explore the future climate negotiations once the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, with energy and carbon-efficient technology expected to play a significant role.

Dropping into the ministerial meeting, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said "we need to find a better, more sensitive set of mechanisms to deal with this problem" once Kyoto expired.

"The solutions will come in the end, in part at least, through the private sector in developing the technology and science," he said.

Kyoto commits signatories to trim their output of six greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, by 2012 compared with 1990 levels. But its impact has been limited by the United States having opted out.

Throughout its 2005 presidency of the G8, Britain has tried to find common ground between emerging powers and Washington.

International campaign group Friends of the Earth demanded that delegates come up with concrete steps towards "real targets with proper funding".

"Warm words and wooly commitments are not enough," director Tony Juniper said.

Beckett, however, said the London gathering was not aimed at creating a set of targets to take to Montreal, but was instead a forum for thrashing ideas around on best practices.

"I know that there are people anxious to set targets and write treaties before anybody has even explored the ground where we might go in the future," she said.

Asked what was required from the Montreal meeting, Beckett replied: "We want something on which the whole world community can agree and which will bring success in cutting emissions."

"What really matters is what comes after 2012. It is clear that for China and India the priority is development. It's important not to run before we can walk."

France's industry minister Francois Loos called for projects to ensure that emerging economic powers get the latest energy and climate technology.

They are needed "to promote transferring the required technology more quickly in order to put in place renewable energy systems", he said.

The world risks continuing on "the unfortunate path we are going down if we do not change".

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Mediterranean Basin, Alps Most Vulnerable To Global Warming
Washington (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
The Mediterranean basin and the Alps could be the most affected by climate change brought about by global warming in the 21st century, according to scientific research published Friday in Science magazine.

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