Nations to meet to discuss global warming
- Nations to meet to discuss global warming
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
By JOHN HEILPRIN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- Producers of half the world's "greenhouse" gases are
angling for more private investment to create cleaner energy
technologies and help slow global warming.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
and presidential adviser James Connaughton will meet next week in
Sydney, Australia, with representatives from five Asian and Pacific
nations. Along with the U.S., these countries account for nearly half
the world's population, energy use and economic output.
The White House said its talks with Australia, China, India, Japan
and South Korea will enhance rather than replace the Kyoto climate
treaty that President Bush rejected because of its mandatory cuts in
carbon dioxide, methane and other gases.
"It's a complement to it," Connaughton, chairman of the White House
Council on Environmental Quality, said Wednesday. "For the countries
in Kyoto, it will be a very useful tool for them to meet their
Among major developed nations, only the United States and Australia
reject the 1997 treaty negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, that mandates
specific cutbacks in emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases
by 2012 in 35 industrialized countries.
China and India signed the treaty as developing nations, exempting
them from the first round of emissions cuts. Japan must cut emissions
by 6 percent below 1990 levels, and South Korea by 5 percent.
Fossil fuel-burning in the U.S. produces one-quarter of the world's
gases that scientists blame for trapping heat in the atmosphere like
a greenhouse. The Bush administration advocates slowing the growth
rate of those gases, not reversing the trend.
Connaughton said the "Asia-Pacific partnership" announced last July
would drum up more private investment for common goals. They include
U.S. and Chinese plans to improve energy efficiency in coal-burning
power plants and cut acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide emissions.
"This is harder than negotiating a diplomatic document, because this
is creating real work plans," he said. "The only way to reduce the
environmental impact of growth in key developing countries like China
and India is through growing the economies that will pay for the
efficiency and pollution controls that make the cuts possible. We
welcome their growth."
Far more will be required if China's economy keeps expanding at its
current rate, said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy
Institute, an environmental research group.
He argues in a new book that China could reach current U.S. income
and consumption levels by 2031 - and the world lacks the basic
resources to sustain that.
"China is demonstrating that the Western economic model, the fossil
fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy is not going to
work," he said Wednesday. "And if it won't work for China, it won't
work for India. Nor will it work for the other 3 billion people in
developing countries also dreaming the American dream."
European wind farms, Japanese solar rooftops, U.S. hybrid cars, South
Korea's reforested hills and bicycle-laden streets in Amsterdam, the
Netherlands, are all examples of the "eco-economy" Brown has in mind.
Building it, he said, would require $161 billion a year in global
spending on renewable energy, diversified transportation and far
greater reuse and recycling of materials.
Rice is also traveling to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim
nation, for talks on the country's democratic development and
strengthening military ties with the United States. Bird flu is also
on her agenda in Jakarta. Military ties have improved since the
1990s, when U.S. cut off most cooperation in response to government
crackdowns in the troubled territory of East Timor.