U.S. to announce ‘Beyond Kyoto’ climate pact
By Michelle Nichols
CANBERRA (Reuters) – The United States, the world’s top
polluter, is set to unveil a five-nation pact to combat global
warming by developing energy technology to cut greenhouse gas
emissions, officials said on Wednesday.
China and India, whose burgeoning economies comprise a
third of humanity, as well as Australia and South Korea are
part of the agreement to tackle climate change beyond the
U.N.’s Kyoto protocol.
The United States and Australia are the only developed
nations outside Kyoto, which demands cuts in greenhouse
emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Both say
Kyoto is flawed because it omits developing states.
Diplomats in the Laotian capital Vientiane said the pact
would be formally announced on Thursday when U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Robert Zoellick holds a news conference
attended by representatives of the other signatories.
Zoellick is attending a regional forum in Laos.
Details of the pact were unclear but it appears to echo
recent comments by President Bush who advocates the use of
technology to curb growth in greenhouse gas emissions rather
than setting Kyoto-style caps on emissions.
Bush believes Kyoto would threaten the U.S. economy even
though many of his allies see it as a vital step to brake a
rise in temperatures they fear could trigger more floods,
storms, lift sea levels and drive thousands of species to
Environmentalists expressed concern that Washington might
try to lure China and India away from U.N. talks, starting this
year, about how to widen Kyoto to include developing nations
“This might be a benign technology agreement between the
five countries,” said Steve Sawyer, climate policy director at
Greenpeace. “On the other hand, this could be the first foray
by the Americans and Australians to knock Kyoto on the head.”
The WWF urged Washington and Canberra to agree Kyoto-style
caps on emissions, saying that any regional energy technology
deal was only a partial solution. And it said China and India
had promised to take part in talks on widening Kyoto.
“A deal on climate change that doesn’t limit pollution is
the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired,” said
Jennifer Morgan, head of the WWF’s climate change program.
Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said that the
five countries had been quietly working on the pact for months.
“It’s quite clear the Kyoto protocol won’t get the world to
where it wants to go … We have got to find something that
works better — Australia is working on that with partners
around the world,” Campbell told reporters.
The Kyoto protocol, first agreed in 1997, came into force
in February after Russia ratified it is of limited use because
many signatories are far above their emission targets.
“We need to expand the energy the world consumes and reduce
the emissions. That’s going to need new technologies, it’s
going to need the development of new technologies and the
deployment of them within developing countries,” Campbell said.
As economies expand, the world is consuming more energy and
is producing more greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon
dioxide from burning fossil fuels such as coal in power plants
and petrol in cars.
“I think it is a good idea because the development of these
technologies is important and I’ve always said there has to be
a partnership between North and South in these technologies.
This is one way of working together,” said Rajendra Pachauri,
chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC).
“It does not interfere with the Kyoto protocol,” he said.
Japan, the world’s number two economy, appeared to welcome
the pact but some others were critical.
“This is all about taxpayers’ money being diverted from
developing clean renewable technologies to try and make burning
coal less dirty,” Bob Brown, leader of the minority Australian
Greens party, said in a statement.
Australia and China are the world’s largest coal exporters,
while the United States is also a top exporter.
The IPCC has said world temperatures are likely to rise
between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, linked to the
build-up of greenhouse gases from human activities.
Scientists say the planet’s average surface temperature has
increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past century.
(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in VIENTIANE, Himangshu
Watts in NEW DELHI, Masayuki Kitano in TOKYO and Alister Doyle