Global warming talks eye U.S
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
MONTREAL (Reuters) – Host Canada urged a wider fight
against global warming at the start of 189-country talks on
Monday that will try to enlist the United States and poor
nations in U.N.-led schemes to fight climate change beyond
“Let us set our sights on a more effective, more inclusive
long-term approach to climate change,” Canadian Environment
Minister Stephane Dion told the opening of the U.N. conference
in Montreal, which lasts until December 9.
“More action is required now,” Dion told delegates at the
talks, likely to involve up to 10,000 representatives of
governments, environmental groups and businesses, charged with
working out how to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases from
The talks will start mapping out what to do after the
U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol, a first step by about 40 industrial
nations to curb emissions, runs out in 2012. Negotiations on a
successor could take several years.
The Montreal session included actors and video images
showing the risks of a changing climate — including more
frequent hurricanes, ice storms, desertification, locust
swarms, forest fires, floods and melting ice caps.
Dion said climate change was the single most important
environmental issue facing the world today.
He did not mention Washington by name but the United
States, the world’s biggest polluter, and Australia have pulled
out of Kyoto, denouncing its caps on emissions as an economic
CAPS WON’T WORK
“A targets and timetables approach will not work for us,”
chief U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson told Reuters,
reiterating the Bush administration’s opposition to Kyoto-style
Washington favors an approach with big investments in new
technologies like hydrogen or research into burying carbon
dioxide, the main industrial gas blamed for warming the planet.
“We are working hard on some of the advanced technologies
… but the development and deployment of technology does not
fit with rigid targets and timetables,” said Watson.
Apart from the United States and Australia, Kyoto excludes
poor nations, such as China and India, from the first set of
targets. Their emissions are growing but far lower per capita
than those of industrial nations.
“We have an enormous task in front of us,” said Argentine
Environment Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia.
He said big nations should take the lead and “significantly
reduce” their emissions. Kyoto backers are supposed to cut
their emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
Some delegates noted that U.S. President George W. Bush
signed a declaration at the Group of Eight summit in Scotland
in July promising action at the U.N. talks in Canada.
Referring to Montreal, the G8 leaders said: “We are
committed to move forward in that forum the global discussion
on long-term cooperative action to address climate change.”
Since records began in the 1860s, the 10 hottest years have
been since 1990 and most scientists blame rising temperatures
on a build-up of greenhouse gases from carbon dioxide released
by burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.
Dion is due to stay on as president of the talks although
Canada’s Liberal government is likely to be toppled in a
confidence vote on Monday, which would trigger an election.
The meeting is a parallel session of the 156 nations which
have ratified Kyoto and a total of 189 countries, including the
United States, which back the wider U.N. climate convention.