U.S. to announce ‘Beyond Kyoto’ greenhouse pact
By Michelle Nichols
CANBERRA (Reuters) – The world’s top polluter, the United
States, is set to unveil a pact to combat global warming by
developing energy technology aimed at cutting greenhouse gas
emissions, officials and diplomats said on Wednesday.
China and India, whose burgeoning economies comprise a
third of humanity, as well as Australia and South Korea are
also part of the agreement to tackle climate change beyond the
Kyoto requires a cut in greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent
below 1990 levels by 2008-12 but the United States and
Australia have never ratified the protocol because it excluded
major developing nations such China and India.
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 press conference
attended by representatives of the other signatories.
Zoellick is attending a regional forum in Laos.
Details of the pact remain unclear but it appears to echo
recent comments by President Bush who advocated the use of
technology in curbing growth in greenhouse gas emissions rather
than setting targets he believes threaten the U.S. economy.
Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said on
Wednesday 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 on Wednesday.
The Kyoto protocol, first agreed in 1997, came into force
in February after Russia ratified the pact but analysts say the
protocol is of limited use because many signatories are already
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.
Many scientists say emissions need to be cut by 50 percent
to try to limit the impact of global warming.
“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
“It does not interfere with the Kyoto protocol,” he said.
Japan, the world’s number two economy, appeared to welcome
the pact but 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.
“If it’s an agreement about appropriate technology
transfer. It could be a useful tool, but not at the expense of
the only international agreement to deal with climate change,”
said Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Catherine Fitpatrick.
A panel of scientists that advises the United Nations has
said world temperatures are likely to rise between 1.4 and 5.8
degrees Celsius by 2100, triggering more frequent floods,
droughts, melting of icecaps and glaciers and driving thousands
of species to extinction.
Scientists say the planet’s average surface temperature has
increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past century.
Researchers say further warming is inevitable because of
the huge amount of extra carbon dioxide pumped into the
atmosphere by man’s activities but the degree of future warming
hinges on how nations control their greenhouse gas emissions
now. (Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in VIENTIANE,
Himangshu Watts in NEW DELHI and Masayuki Kitano in TOKYO)