April 24, 2009

Top Nations Discuss Biodiversity In Sicily

On the final day of a series of talks in Sicily, environment ministers from across the world gathered to discuss the future of climate change prevention with an emphasis on avoiding the loss of biodiversity.

The three-day discussion is resulting in new measures as global climate change policy gains traction in the months leading to the December conference where world leaders will renew the Kyoto Protocol.

US delegate Lisa Jackson said world leaders appear to be encouraged by the new policies of President Barack Obama, who claims to already have done more for US energy policy in his first three months as president than the US has achieved in 30 years.

"It's a good feeling to know that the world is waiting to welcome the US to the table and is not too frustrated by the lack of leadership in the past," said Jackson, who heads the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson is expected to address delegates at the G8 Plus meeting in Sicily on Friday. She will discuss the correlation between children's health and the environment.

During this week's meetings Members of the G8 signed an agreement to protect biodiversity, with emphasis in developing countries.

The UN estimates that species are disappearing at a rate of three per hour due to human influence.

Delegates to the Syracuse talks agreed to a new set of guidelines for ending biodiversity loss, even amidst a struggling global economy. The "Syracuse Charter" will spell out ways to reinforce and extend goals for 2010 that were set in 2002, according to AFP.

"I think Syracuse has shown realism has set in: the realization that time is running out," said Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Program.

"I do leave Syracuse very much concerned that there is as yet no clear pathway to resolving the gaps which remain."

The meetings occurred just months before delegates will gather in Copenhagen in December to renew the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The treaty is set to expire in 2012.

President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, claiming that it would be too costly for US businesses. But world leaders and environmentalists have regained hope for a new policy agreement under President Obama.

According to AFP, Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursik, who met Obama in Prague earlier this month, said Thursday: "We are on the way to Copenhagen."

"President Obama told me that their chief negotiator Todd Stern will go to Copenhagen with the strongest possible mandate."

"This should open the doors and get us out of the deadlock and get China and India on board," Bursik said.

G8 member countries account for more than 40 percent of the world's carbon emissions.


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