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Nations Fail to Agree on Climate Targets

February 1, 2008

Delegates from 16 nations, plus the E.U. and the U.N., representing 80 percent of emissions that scientists say contribute to global warming met in Honolulu to discuss ways to reduce the advancement of global climate change

The delegates told the AP that they hope that the Hawaii talks will lead to a 2009 road map for fighting global warming.

Phil Woolas, Britain’s environment minister, said the closed-door talks addressed the options of compiling a series of national commitments to reduce emissions or of setting a worldwide long-term goal and dividing the emissions reductions needed among different countries.

The U.S. and other countries are showing more flexibility on the issue of climate change than before.

“There’s a realization that we have to get an agreement; otherwise we’re all going to drown,” Woolas told AP.

President Bush hosted the first series of talks in Washington in September. The E.U. had threatened to withdraw from the meetings, which some environmentalists have viewed as a threat to the U.N. climate treaty process, but European nations agreed to participate after talks last month in Bali, Indonesia.

Daniel Price, assistant to President Bush for international economic affairs, said during a break in Thursday’s talks that the discussions “have been positive and constructive.”

The U.S. has been seeking voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalists have voiced skepticism about what the Hawaii talks would accomplish, given the U.S. opposition to mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.

The E.U. has proposed cutting its overall emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels – or 14 percent from 2005.

In addition to setting goals for industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the process launched in Bali will also outline ways for wealthy nations to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.  

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