US Aims to Stop G8’s Tough Push


By Jeremy Lovell

Globe and Mail
May 22, 2007

The United States is battling to stop next month's Group of Eight summit in Germany from pushing for urgent talks on a new deal to fight global warming after the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012. In a leaked draft of the final communiqué for the June 6 to 8 summit, Washington wants references taken out to the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for a UN conference in Bali in December to open talks on a new global deal.

According to the draft, the United States supports the deletion of the following paragraphs: "We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living." "To this end we will, in the face of the U.N. Climate Change Conference at the end of this year, send a clear message on the further development of the international regime to combat climate change."

The deletions are part of a concerted effort by the United States, which rejected Kyoto in 2001 and has ever since tried to undermine it, to water down the tone and content of the G8 summit declaration. Environment ministers are due to meet on the Indonesian island of Bali Dec. 3 to 14. Britain and Germany are pushing for an agreement to kick-start talks on a successor treaty to Kyoto, extending and expanding its scope and membership. Instead, the United States wants the final G8 statement to say, "Addressing climate change is a long-term issue that will require global participation and a diversity of approaches to take into account differing circumstances."

Most references in the draft, dated April, 2007, to targets and timetables to cut climate-warming carbon emissions have met with objections from Washington. It objects to efforts by G8 president Germany to get rich nations to agree to cut energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2020 and raise energy efficiency in transport and power generation by the same amount over the same period. It also objects to a call for actions to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius this century and to cut carbon emissions by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Top scientists predict that average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees this century because of burning fossil fuels for power and transport, bringing floods, famines and storms and putting millions of lives at risk. However, they also note that because of the 30-year time lag between taking action to curb emissions and those actions having any discernible effect, the lower end of the increase is inevitable even if tough curbs are introduced immediately.

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