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Trans Atlantic Rift Not That Great On Global Warming

by Anne Chaon
Brussels (AFP) April 4, 2007
The gap between the United States and European Union over how to tackle global warming is narrower than many might think, the US ambassador to the EU said on Tuesday.

Speaking two days after EU's environment commissioner lashed the United States for its lacking commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, Boyden Gray told AFP that Washington and Brussels were "exchanging papers for the next EU-US summit and our differences are not that great."

"We were criticised for being much more interested in energy security than in climate change, but both sides of the Atlantic now agree it's the same and it's a constructive change... I don't see that much difference," he said in a phone interview.

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, speaking on Monday at the start of a meeting of UN climate experts in Brussels, spelt out plans for cutting EU's greenhouse-gas emissions through ever-tighter, legally binding curbs.

He tartly compared these plans with the US voluntary approach.

"(The US) approach doesn't help in reaching international agreement and doesn't reduce (US) emissions, because they are right now 60 percent above the 1990 level," Dimas said, noting that in 2005, emissions by the 27-member EU were 7.4 percent below the 1990 benchmark.

"We expect the US to come closer and not to continue with a negative attitude in international negotiations... it's absolutely necessary that they move."

Gray noted that the EU, especially among its eastern members, was becoming deeply concerned about energy security, given the bloc's dependence on Russian gas.

In the United States, meanwhile, "concern was initially triggered by energy security but climate change is definitely developing as a primary motivation," he said. "We shouldn't be judged, because what we do is the same."

Dimas likewise upbraided Australia, saying he was bewildered why Canberra -- like the United States -- had not ratified the Kyoto Protocol for reducing emissions of greenhouse-gases.

The EU championed the Kyoto Protocol after it was abandoned by the United States in March 2001.

It sets the only specific global target for reducing carbon emissions -- mainly the byproduct of fossil fuels -- that trap solar heat and thus warm Earth's surface.

But the treaty has been almost crippled by the absence of the United States, which alone accounts for about a quarter of all this pollution. Exploratory negotiations are under way for determining what treaty should follow Kyoto after the accord expires at the end of 2012.

On Friday, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to release a massive report that will highlight the impacts of climate change and say some of its future effects could be dire, with the burden falling squarely on the world's poorest.

On Tuesday, President George W. Bush said he took climate change "very seriously" but "anything that happens cannot hurt economic growth... it's going to require new technologies, which tend to be expensive."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Pollution Cop Defends Bush Greenhouse Gas Record
Washington (AFP) April 3, 2007
The US Environmental Protection Agency defended itself Tuesday after the US Supreme Court ordered it to consider greenhouse gases as pollutants.

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