November 27, 2005

Canada confident of progress at UN climate talks

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

MONTREAL, Canada (Reuters) - Host Canada expressed hopes of
easing a dispute between the United States and most of its
allies on ways to combat global warming at U.N. climate talks
starting on Monday.

Up to 10,000 delegates from 189 nations meeting in Montreal
from November 28-December 9 will also look at ways to involve
big developing nations like China and India in curbing
emissions of heat-trapping gases blamed for heating the planet.

"Everybody understands the problem but there are big
differences on the solutions," Canadian Environment Minister
Stephane Dion said of global warming that is widely blamed on
human activities and may trigger more storms, droughts and
rising sea levels.

"Let's try to have some progress, a rapprochement, among
countries. I'm confident we'll do it" in Montreal, he said in
opening an exhibition on Sunday ranging from solar-powered cars
to windmills. He did not mention any countries by name.

The meeting will be the first of the annual U.N. climate
talks since the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol on limiting emissions of
gases, mainly from human use of fossil fuels in power plants,
factories and cars, entered into force in February.

Many Kyoto nations want Montreal to launch negotiations,
likely to last years, on setting new curbs once Kyoto's goals
run out in 2012. But the United States and Australia have
rejected Kyoto as a straitjacket threatening economic growth.

"I can't see the United States joining international
negotiations about what happens after 2012," said Paal
Prestrud, head of the Center for International Climate and
Environmental Research in Oslo.

"It's hard to imagine a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol
without the United States and Australia," he said.


Any deal excluding the United States and Australia could
hand them a competitive advantage because of costs of complying
with Kyoto, which seeks a shift from burning coal, oil and gas
to cleaner, but even more costly, energy like wind or solar

Montreal will also be a test of how far developing nations
are willing to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases beyond
2012 when wider use of energy -- like supplying electricity for
homes or industry -- is key to ending poverty.

The Montreal meeting will be complicated by the likely
defeat of Canada's Liberal government, of which Dion is a
member, on Monday after 17 months in power in a vote of
confidence. A loss would trigger an election campaign.

The Montreal conference is a parallel meeting of the U.N.'s
189-nation 1992 climate convention which oversees Kyoto, in
which Washington and Canberra are full members, and of the
156-nation Kyoto Protocol, where they are mere observers.

Delegates say that the talks may end with a twin track
allowing Kyoto backers to go ahead and plan long-term targets
while all nations also discuss broader solutions.

Under Kyoto, about 40 industrialized countries including
European Union nations, Russia and Japan, have to cut emissions
of carbon dioxide by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

"It's clear from the mounting evidence of climate change
that much deeper cuts in emissions will be needed from 2012,"
environmental group Greenpeace said. It wants a 2008 deadline
for negotiating a successor treaty for Kyoto.

On one front-line of climate change, about 2,000 people on
the Cantaret Islands off Papua New Guinea have decided to move
to nearby Bougainville island after a losing battle with rising
sea levels that have washed away homes and poisoned fresh

And businesses and investors in a new European Union market
for trading emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse
gas, also urgently want to know what the rules will be after

After pulling out of Kyoto in 2001, U.S. President George
W. Bush has stressed investments in new energy technologies
like hydrogen or ways to bury carbon dioxide below ground.

(Additional reporting by Gerard Wynn in London)