Thursday, December 01, 2005

US rules out post-2012 climate change talks


MONTREAL - The United States ruled out making extra pledges to fight global warming beyond 2012 yesterday, angering environmentalists who accused Washington of blocking a 189-nation conference in Canada.

Up to 10,000 delegates are meeting in Montreal from November 28-December 9 to discuss new ways to fight a build-up of gases released mainly from burning fossil fuels in factories, power stations and cars.

Chief US negotiator Harlan Watson said he opposed proposals to launch talks on new actions to combat global warming beyond 2012.

Environmentalists accused the US of doing too little to fight a rise in temperatures from human activities that could change the climate.

Bill Hare, climate policy director of Greenpeace, called the US the "fly in the ointment".

"The failure of the US to be willing to discuss future action here is the real issue," he said, predicting that Washington would join a global pact only after Bush leaves office.

Kyoto Protocol backers plan to launch talks, likely to last several years, on new commitments beyond 2012.

Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, branding it too costly and unfair for excluding poorer countries from caps.

Many also hope to start wider parallel talks among all countries, including the US and developing nations such as China and India.

"We hope to start a dialogue" among all 189 nations, said Sarah Hendry, head of the British delegation which holds the rotating EU presidency. She said that new, tougher measures were urgently needed to combat rising temperatures.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday he believed all major economies would sign up for a binding accord to succeed Kyoto.

However, Watson reiterated that Washington had no plans to adopt Kyoto-style caps on emissions and rejected predictions that the US was dooming the conference to failure.

"I don't know why it's doomed," he said. "There's more than one way to approach climate change.

"Look at the data - the United States has done better in the first three years of the Bush Administration in addressing greenhouse gas emissions than the EU ... the UK, France, Germany."

United Nations data shows the US is doing worse than all the nations named by Watson in the longer term. US emissions were 13.3 per cent above 1990 levels in 2003 - the EU average was a fall of 1.4 per cent.



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