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U.S. to be urged over climate pact
December 4th, 2007

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Faced with melting polar ice caps and worsening
droughts, climate experts at a massive U.N. conference Monday urged quick
action toward a new international pact stemming an increasingly destructive
rise in world temperatures.
Cyclists in Denpasar, Indonesia, campaign on Sunday for a reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions.

A key goal of the two-week conference, which opened with delegates from
nearly 190 countries in attendance, will be to draw a skeptical United
States into an agreement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other
so-called greenhouse gases.

While the U.S. delegation declared it would not be a “roadblock” to a new
agreement, Washington remains opposed to steps many other countries support,
such as mandatory emissions cuts by rich nations and a target for limiting
the rise in global temperatures.

The American position suffered a blow Monday when the new Australian prime
minister signed papers to ratify the Kyoto Protocol climate pact. The move
leaves the U.S. — the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases — as the
sole industrial power not to have joined.

Conference leaders urged delegates to move quickly to combat climate change.

“The eyes of the world are upon you. There is a huge responsibility for Bali
to deliver,” said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the conference.
“The world now expects a quantum leap forward.”

The conference kicked off amid growing global momentum for dramatic action
to stop rising temperatures that scientists say could lead to swamping of
coastal areas and islands by higher oceans, the wiping out of species,
economic havoc and a spike in natural disasters such as storms, fires and
droughts.

The Bali meeting will be the first major conference of its kind since former
Vice President Al Gore — due to arrive next week — and a U.N. scientific
council won the Nobel Peace Prize in October for their environmental work.

The immediate aim will be to launch negotiations toward a pact to replace
the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012, and set an agenda for the talks
and a deadline. The U.N. says such an agreement should be concluded by 2009
in order to have a system in place in time.

Among the most contentious issues ahead will be whether emission cuts should
be mandatory or voluntary. Also to be tackled will be to what extent
up-and-coming economies like China and India will have to rein in their
skyrocketing emissions, and how to help the world’s poorest countries adapt
to a worsening climate.

The American delegation was clearly on the defensive in Bali, presenting a
statement detailing the ways the U.S. is fighting global warming without
submitting to mandatory emissions targets.

“We’re not here to be a roadblock,” insisted Harlan L. Watson, the senior
U.S. climate negotiator. “We’re committed to a successful conclusion, and
we’re going to work very constructively to make that happen.”

Confronted with the scientific reports of the past year, the Bush
administration has signaled a willingness to play a larger role in the
negotiations, and U.N. officials agree they must craft a post-Kyoto
framework that Washington will go along with.

Australia abandoned the anti-Kyoto alliance with the U.S. on Monday, when
new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the paperwork to ratify the pact.
Delegates in Bali erupted in applause when Australia’s delegate, Howard
Bamsey, told the plenary that Canberra was jumping on board.

Environmentalists at the conference cited what they saw as growing
international momentum for tougher safeguards against global warming. Even
critics of the Bush administration pointed out that many individual states,
such as California, were on the forefront of cutting emissions.

“Despite the failure of the current president to take serious action on
global warming, the political landscape in the United States is shifting
dramatically in favor of mandatory limits on global warming pollution,” said
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, citing upcoming action in
the U.S. Congress.

Trying to fend off charges that America is not doing enough, Bush said last
week a final Energy Department report showed U.S. emissions of carbon
dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, declined by 1.5 percent last year while
the economy grew.



 

 

 

 

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