November 1, 2005

UK Holds Energy Summit to Tackle Global Warming

By Stuart Penson

LONDON (Reuters) - Energy ministers from 20 countries met in London on Tuesday to discuss how to tackle climate change through technology and persuade big polluters the United States, India and China to become involved in the fight.

"It is imperative that we find new ways to cooperate and develop a shared understanding of how the world can respond to climate change," Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett said.

The summit brings the G8 group of industrialized nations alongside major developing countries including India and China.

It is the first meeting after an agreement at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July which emphasized the importance of climate-friendly technologies such as clean coal and renewables rather than binding international treaties.

The United States did not sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the treaty does not cover developing countries such as India and China whose carbon dioxide emissions are soaring as their economies expand.

"What (British Prime Minister Tony Blair) is trying to achieve out of a consensus about how we move beyond Kyoto," Blair's spokesman said this week.

World carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to soar 60 percent by 2030, mainly due to a rise in pollution from developing countries.

Many scientists blame the rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2, in the last century for causing global warming whose worst effects could include rising seas levels and flooding. The United States Gulf coast has been battered by a record number of hurricanes this year.

The International Energy Agency, the industrialized countries' energy watchdog, has called for urgent measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, 80 percent of which come from energy use.

The European Union this year launched a carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme under which companies have to reduce their pollution and can trade carbon credits in a new market.

The scheme, the world's first international emissions market, is likely to be expanded to include the aviation industry.

Britain's own CO2 emissions have risen in recent years after falling sharply in the 1990s when generators built new clean gas-fired power stations to replace more polluting coal ones.

The country will meet its Kyoto target on reducing CO2 pollution but is likely to miss more ambitious domestic goals.