--- In Paleontology_and_Climate@yahoogroups.com, Tim Jones
Australia shifts on climate change
By Michel Comte in Montreal
THE US has found itself isolated as other countries, including ally
Australia, backed the early start of negotiations for deeper cuts in
greenhouse gases, the fossil-fuel pollution blamed for global
Ministers and other representatives from 189 countries and entities
are meeting in Montreal this week to debate the shape of the Kyoto
Protocol after the UN climate pact's present commitments expire in
Stalwart Australia broke ranks with the US to endorse a Canadian
proposal for countries to hold talks over the next two years to find
ways of curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.
"The reality is that we can only make meaningful global greenhouse
gas reductions if effective action is taken by all the major emitting
countries," Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said.
The conference is taking place under the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), the fruit of the 1992 Rio Summit.
Kyoto, its key offshoot, sets targets for industrialised countries to
reduce carbon-based gases that act like an invisible blanket,
trapping the Sun's heat and driving up the planet's surface
But the present reduction targets under Kyoto make only a tiny inroad
into the problem - and they only involve a few dozen industrialised
They do not include the US, which walked away from the accord in 2001
because of the cost of meeting its provisions.
Nor do the targets involve big developing countries such as China,
India and Brazil, which are becoming big polluters in their own
Treading carefully in a diplomatic minefield, Canada, the conference
host, said it wanted the UNFCCC "to engage in discussions to explore
and analyse long-term co-operative action to address climate change"
and with the "widest possible co-operation and participation."
The proposal does not spell out any targets or a timetable or say how
the goals would be met, although Canada says the format would have to
Even so, the US voiced its objections to the proposal and defended
its argument that smart technology and a voluntary approach, rather
than emissions caps and regulations, would fend off climate change.
"It is our belief that progress cannot be made through these
formalised discussions," Paula Dobriansky, US Under Secretary for
Democracy and Global Affairs told a press conference.
"We believe that the best approach and the best way forward is one
that takes into account diversified approaches and differing
opinions. One size does not fit all."
Washington's political isolation was highlighted in remarks by other
The European Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas,
pointedly said the European Union would "continue to talk to our
American partners and remind them of their commitments".
"In Gleneagles and at the UN Summit in September, President Bush
expressed his commitment to use this meeting here in Montreal to move
forward global discussions on future action on climate change," Mr
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin too pressed the US.
"To all those countries that are still reticent, including the United
States, I want to say this: We have a global conscience and now is
time to listen to that conscience," he said.
"It's time to join with the international community and get down to
work, to show leadership, and especially it's the time to take action
because only together can we make real and lasting progress."
The Bush administration's approach on tackling carbon emissions was
lashed by a group of leading US economists yesterday.
Twenty-five of them, including three Nobel laureates, called in a
letter for the US to introduce caps and other regulatory policies to
spur market incentives that would greatly reduce fuel consumption and
Posted by Tim
--- End forwarded message ---