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US Clash With G8 Partners Looms Over Climate Issues

"The US is refusing to take account of findings by an Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change, whose latest conclusions have been used by the Germans in their draft climate statement." Photo courtesy AFP.

China wants to stop energy-guzzling industries.
Beijing (AFP) May 27 - China's top economic planning agency has told local authorities to remove preferential policies for industries which consume disproportionate amounts of energy, state media said Sunday. The order from the National Development and Reform Commission, reported by the Xinhua news agency, comes amid growing signs the government's ambitious energy-saving plans are failing. It was unclear which sector would be targeted, but the power, steel, oil refinery, chemicals, construction materials and metals industries account for 70 percent of energy for industry, according to state media. Xinhua also did not give specific details about which type of preferential policy would be removed, but it could refer to tax holidays or cheap use of government land. The Chinese government set a goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent by 2010, but failed miserably in 2006, the first year of implementation. Energy consumption fell only 1.23 percent last year, less than one third of the annual goal of four percent.
by Anne Chaon
Paris (AFP) May 27, 2007
The prospect looms of a major clash between the United States and its G8 partners over global warming, with Washington's view threatening to block agreement at next month's summit of the leading industrial nations. German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel Saturday criticised the US climate policy in a newspaper interview, saying it "was going to be difficult to achieve success" at the June 6-8 session in Heiligendamm hosted by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Merkel has made climate change a priority during Germany's presidency of the Group of Eight.

The environmental protection group Greenpeace Saturday published a leaked document showing that the United States had raised serious new objections to a proposed global warming declaration prepared by the German hosts.

It looked to observers as though US objections in the form of amendments had drained the substance from the German statement.

"The United States still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," the document stated.

Washington rejects the idea of setting mandatory emissions targets, as well as language calling for G8 nations to raise overall energy efficiencies by 20 percent by 2020.

Merkel's proposed climate statement calls for limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to," the US document said.

Sources close to negotiations told AFP the US amendments seek to remove any idea of an urgent problem of climate change requiring a firm international response.

"The preliminary sessions clearly indicate the American desire to minimalise (the draft)," said one European diplomatic source.

The US was refusing to take account of findings by an Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change, whose latest conclusions have been used by the Germans in their draft climate statement, the source said.

"I can't remember any major international climate meeting with that kind of complete divergence of views," said Phil Clapp, head of the National Environment Trust in Washington.

"There is a fundamental disagreement between the EU and the Bush administration positions. It's hard to see how governments could sign the sort of statement that Washington wants."

Clapp added that "at this point we don't see signs that the (Bush) administration will change its position... and as a matter of fact the signs go in exactly the opposite direction."

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino played down the document leaked by Greenpeace while acknowledging differences.

"We believe that there are many different approaches to climate change," she said. "By no means is there a final document." Washington does not recognise the UN Convention on climate change as an appropriate forum for multilateral negotiations on global warming, but only as one of several possible forums.

This also does not augur well for a conference scheduled in Bali in December at which states who have signed up to the Convention will have to negotiate a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change which runs out in 2012. The US has not signed the Kyoto Protocol.

"These latest proposals display a complete absence of reconciliation between the American technological approach and that of the EU," said the diplomatic source.

"And all this despite appeals by major American companies and Republican Party personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger."

On May 18, senior US lawmakers wrote to Bush expressing deep concern over reports that his administration was seeking to weaken a G8 declaration on climate change.

"US leadership is critical to tackling this global threat.... But we need an executive branch that engages the rest of the world to solve this problem rather than stubbornly ignoring it," the 15 heads of congressional committees wrote in a letter.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Related Links
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

ExxonMobil Shareholders To Raise Heat On Global Warming
Washington (AFP) May 23, 2007
A group of ExxonMobil shareholders, including large public US pension funds, said Wednesday they planned to raise the heat on oil giant ExxonMobil over its climate change policies. The investors, who include the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement System among others, said they would seek to reform ExxonMobil's position on global warming at the annual shareholder meeting on May 30.

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