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US Resists Changing Stance Amid Climate Warnings

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  • Mike Neuman
    US Resists Changing Stance Amid Climate Warnings http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm?newsid=28592 USA: December 16, 2004 BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2004
      US Resists Changing Stance Amid Climate Warnings

      USA: December 16, 2004

      BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Meteorologists warned on Wednesday that
      2004 would be one of the hottest years since records began as
      environment ministers tried to crack US resistance to joining
      international efforts against global warming.

      The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization said in its annual
      report that 2004 would be the fourth-hottest since record-keeping
      began in 1861 and predicted global warming would continue with more
      extreme weather like hurricanes and droughts.
      The report came as environment ministers from 80 countries met on
      Wednesday for the final days of a UN conference on climate change.

      The conference of nearly 200 nations has turned into a polarized
      affair, with the European Union and nations supporting the Kyoto
      protocol to cut greenhouse gases in one camp and the United States,
      the world's biggest polluter, in the other.

      Just two months before Kyoto goes into force thanks to Russia's
      recent ratification, the United States has made it very clear it will
      not sign up for Kyoto's mandatory caps on emissions after President
      George W. Bush withdrew from the agreement in 2001.

      The US delegation has also said repeatedly over the last nine days
      that it is "premature" to negotiate anything for when Kyoto expires
      in 2012.

      That stonewalling has earned the United States few friends at this
      tenth United Nations meeting, where many of the 6,000 participants
      wear cords around their necks saying: "No to Bush, Yes to Kyoto."

      But the head of the US delegation, Paula Dobriansky, said the
      perception that Washington is resistant to global climate change
      efforts was unfair.

      "We believe we have a common goal and a common commitment, and that
      there are multiple strategies to reach that. So I think we're very
      committed to working with others," Dobriansky told Reuters late on

      British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be working to soften Bush on
      climate change during its G8 presidency next year, but analysts
      believe he will be unsuccessful.

      Although responsible for 25 percent of the world's emissions, the
      United States wants no legally binding rules that could hurt economic
      growth and it says it is not convinced by scientific evidence of a
      planet in crisis.


      The US position got a boost, however, from Italy in Buenos Aires as
      it called for an end to the binding agreements of the Kyoto protocol
      after 2012 in favor of voluntary targets that would entice the United
      States, China and India.

      Kyoto, which will reduce emissions by five percent in industrialized
      nations, is only a first step and excludes developing countries like
      China and India, who are already among the top five polluters.

      The European Union, the world leader in the fight to cut heat-
      trapping gases, tried to quell notions of dissent in its ranks.

      "What the Italian minister said is quite right. We have to involve
      the fast-growing developing countries and the United States in the
      after-2012 regime," said Dutch Environment Minister Pieter van Geel,
      heading the EU delegation.

      EU commissioner for the environment, Stavros Dimas, indicated that
      Buenos Aires is the very beginning of a long process. He hopes
      for "an informal agreement for the process for paving the way to
      launching negotiations for post-2012."

      Environmental activists, meanwhile, are exasperated by the lack of
      urgency at the conference, which they blame on excessive deference to
      an unwilling United States.

      "We could be leaving this city without any achievement," said Gurmit
      Singh of the Climate Action Network in Southeast Asia.

      One of the conference's main goals is to approve an aid package for
      developing countries to adapt to climate change. But a powerful Saudi
      Arabia delegation led by Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi is seen blocking
      that effort.

      "For them, it's a principle to block the negotiations because they
      are involved with US oil and other fossil fuel industries which have
      no interest in Kyoto," said Stephan Singer of WWF.

      (Additional reporting by Hilary Burke and Juana Casas)

      Story by Mary Milliken

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