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Gore: US blocking climate talks progress

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Bianca
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« on: December 13, 2007, 06:27:12 am »








                                       Gore: US blocking climate talks progress
 




BALI, Indonesia - Former Vice President Al Gore said Thursday the United States is "principally responsible" for blocking progress at the U.N. climate conference in Bali.
 
Gore urged delegates at the conference to take urgent action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

"My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali," said Gore, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for helping alert the world to the danger of climate change.

The United States has opposed including in a final conference document a suggestion that industrialized countries reduce emissions by between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020.

Earlier Thursday, European nations threatened to boycott U.S.-led climate talks next month unless Washington accepts a range of numbers for negotiating deep reductions of global-warming emissions.



BALI, Indonesia (AP) European nations on Thursday threatened to boycott U.S.-led climate talks next month unless Washington accepts a range of numbers for negotiating deep reductions of global-warming emissions at a U.N. conference here.

The move raised the stakes as delegates from nearly 190 nations entered final-hour talks on Bali aimed at launching negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The United States, Japan and several other governments refuse to accept language in a draft document suggesting that industrialized nations consider cutting emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, saying specific targets would limit the scope of future talks.

The European Union and others say the figures reflect the measures scientists say are needed to rein in global warming and head off predictions of rising sea levels, worsening floods and droughts, and the extinction of plant and animal species.

"No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting," said Sigmar Gabriel, top EU environment official from Germany, referring to a series of separate climate talks initiated by President Bush in September. "This is the clear position of the EU. I do not know what we should talk about if there is no target."

The U.S. invited 16 other major economies, including European countries, Japan, China and India, to discuss a program of what are expected to be nationally determined, voluntary cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bush administration views the major economies process as the main vehicle for determining future steps by the U.S. and it hopes by others to slow emissions. But environmentalists accuse the U.S. of trying to undermine the U.N. process.

The talks in Bali are scheduled to wrap up Friday.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said he was worried the U.S.-EU deadlock could derail the process and that a final "Bali roadmap" would contain an agreement to negotiate a new climate deal by 2009, but may not include specific targets for emission reductions.

"I'm very concerned about the pace of things," he said. "If we don't get wording on the future, then the whole house of cards falls to pieces."

The United States delegation said while it continues to reject inclusion of specific emission cut targets, it hopes eventually to reach an agreement that is "environmentally effective" and "economically sustainable."

But haggling over numbers now was counterproductive, said Jim Connaughton, the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The United States is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the only major industrial country to have rejected Kyoto, which expires in 2012. It has been on the defensive since the conference kicked off on Dec. 3.

Pressure has come even from a one-time ally on climate, Australia, whose new prime minister urged Washington to "embrace" binding targets, and from former Vice President Al Gore, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for helping alert the world to the danger of climate change.

But U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, the head of the American delegation, told reporters that the conference was simply the start of negotiations, not the end.

"We don't have to resolve all these issues ... here in Bali," she said.

That did not satisfy environmentalists, who accused Washington of standing in the way of a meaningful deal and not just on the inclusion of emissions targets.

In the end, however, all parties agree it is vital that the U.S. is on board.

"Everyone wants the United States in so badly that they will be willing to accept some level of ambiguity in the negotiations," said Greenpeace energy expert John Coequyt. "Our worry is that we will end up with a deal that is unacceptable from an environmental perspective."

The Kyoto Protocol requires 37 industrial nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by a relatively modest average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Bush has argued that the pact would harm the U.S. economy and cutbacks should have been imposed on poorer but fast-developing nations such as China and India.
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