US Torpedoes German Hopes For Binding G8 Climate Deal
Heiligendamm, Germany (AFP) June 06, 2007
US President George W. Bush dashed German hopes Wednesday for a binding pact on slashing carbon emissions at a Group of Eight summit. But the US leader indicated he was willing to work on climate change within a UN framework. As the meeting of the world's richest nations got underway in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Bush flatly rejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel's call to agree a limit the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
But he said he thought the G8 leaders would agree to clearly frame the debate ahead of a United Nations meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December to find a successor to the UN-backed Kyoto Protocol on capping emissions that expires in 2012.
"We will achieve that objective here at the G8, because we will have set a post-Kyoto framework," Bush said.
The concession appeared to allow Merkel, one of Bush's closest allies in Europe and the summit's host, to save face after she was forced to climb down from another top goal: a binding cap carbon emissions by 50 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050.
The United States is the only one of the G8 countries that has refused to ratify Kyoto.
Bush had last week called for an international accord on fighting climate change to be sealed by the end of next year, but his national security advisor Stephen Hadley said Wednesday he was prepared to move sooner.
"It could (happen before Bali), and we would like to move out on it very quickly," he said.
"And one of the reasons for doing that is precisely because it could be a contribution to the discussion that will go forward on Bali."
But the chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, Jim Connaughton, said all major polluting nations would have to be on board before Washington would accept any long-term agreement on emission cuts.
European leaders were caught off guard last week by Bush's sudden offer to contribute to a plan to slow climate change together with major polluting countries.
While many welcomed the apparent turnabout, German officials warned against a "coalition of the willing" approach in which select countries signed on or begged off, insisting the UN retain the upper hand in a global process.
Merkel scaled down her goals after a bilateral meeting with Bush Wednesday, but drew a few red lines.
"It is clear that goals the Europeans have chosen cannot immediately be shared by the entire world. The question is will we at the end of this summit be farther along and will we have made a clear step forward," Merkel said.
"Along with that is accepting the climate problem caused by human beings and that we need a process in which the UN is involved. That is what we are negotiating. I cannot tell you yet what the result will be."
The original German plan had won qualified support from some G8 nations, but there was stiff US opposition to mandatory emissions limits.
Although he welcomed US movement on the issue, Bush's key ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair backed Merkel's line on the summit.
"Failure is if there is not an agreement that leads to a global deal with substantial reduction in emissions at the heart of it," he told Wednesday's edition of The Guardian.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy also pushed for a specific, measurable target.
"President Bush has made initial efforts but it is essential that we fix a target to clearly show the determination of the G8 to act and obtain results," he said.
Environmental watchdog Greenpeace urged Merkel not to buckle, saying anything less than a US agreement to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and accept the German targets was simply "hot air."
But the leaders of major emerging powers who have been invited to the G8 summit have also expressed reservations about binding targets.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that "due care must be taken not to allow growth and development prospects in the developing world to be undermined or constrained."
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleAustralia Begins Climate Project With China
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Jun 07, 2007
CSIRO and the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) have signed a two-year funding agreement for collaboration between CSIRO statisticians and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Science. The project will investigate climate and rainfall linkages between China and Australia. "The objective of this project is to improve understanding of the interaction of the Australian and East Asian monsoon systems," says CSIRO Environmental Statistician Dr Bronwyn Harch.
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