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US Offered Lucrative Lure Of Global Carbon Trading

The Washington forum is expected to press for major developing nations, like China and India, to be brought on board the global campaign against climate change as the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto protocol approaches.
by Jitendra Joshi
Washington (AFP) Feb 13, 2007
Wall Street could become the world's center for lucrative markets in carbon trading, or be left behind if the US government ignores climate change, a senior British lawmaker said Tuesday. Ahead of a gathering of global lawmakers at the US Senate to debate action on global warming, legislators said the European Union's emissions trading scheme offered a model for the United States, China and India to follow.

Former British cabinet member Stephen Byers said the London Stock Exchange was already developing the infrastructure for companies, including US multinationals, to trade in carbon emissions.

"We have a global economy, and we are going to move very quickly to a global carbon market. Wall Street could be the world center for carbon trading," he told a press briefing on the eve of the two-day forum.

"But if everybody in the United States holds back, then the New York Stock Exchange is going to lose out in what is going to be a huge money-earner, and an employer of literally tens of thousands of people," Byers said.

"So America has a choice, it has a decision to make, and it has to make it quickly."

The Republican administration of US President George W. Bush insists that it takes the issue of man-made climate change seriously, but remains opposed to endorsing the Kyoto treaty against global warming.

But with the Democrats back in control of Congress, initiatives such as enforced caps on greenhouse gas emissions from industry, and European-style carbon markets, are getting a new hearing in fora like this week's.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to open the gathering on Wednesday with a speech via video-link to spell out her priorities on climate change as chair this year of the Group of Eight nations.

Company leaders such as Virgin Group boss Richard Branson, BP America president Bob Malone and Tata Steel managing-director B. Muthuraman were to discuss corporate action on the issue.

The forum comes at a time when scientific warnings about the catastrophic potential of global warming are reaching a fever pitch.

Robert Watson, the World Bank's chief scientist who from 1997 to 2002 headed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), underlined at Tuesday's briefing that it would take "thousands of years" to reverse rising sea levels.

The IPCC, the UN's top scientific authority on global warming, delivered its starkest warning yet at a Paris conference this month.

The UN body's first report for six years said fossil fuel pollution would raise temperatures this century, worsen floods, droughts and hurricanes, melt polar ice and damage the climate system for millennium to come.

The Washington forum is expected to press for major developing nations, like China and India, to be brought on board the global campaign against climate change as the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto protocol approaches.

In Berlin Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said after talks with Merkel that he was staking his remaining months in office on reaching a new agreement to succeed Kyoto.

Watson stressed that China alone was building power stations fired by dirty coal at a rate of one a week.

But the World Bank scientist stressed: "We have to recognize that energy is absolutely essential for poverty alleviation and economic growth.

"So the challenge we have is, how does one have cost-effective energy in developing countries that's also climate-friendly."

Anders Wijkman, a Swedish politician leading the European Parliament's drive to forge a post-2012 deal on climate change, said US leadership was needed now more than ever.

With Washington on board, he said, "our discussions with China and India would of course be a lot more easy."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Blair Wants New Climate Change Deal Before Exit
Berlin (AFP) Feb 13, 2007
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said here on Tuesday he was staking his remaining months in office on reaching a new international agreement on climate change. After talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Blair said he hoped to help thrash out compromises on a new accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol governing reductions in greenhouse gases which expires in 2012.

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