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G8 Set for Transatlantic Clash on Climate

Published by MAC on 2007-05-14

G8 Set for Transatlantic Clash on Climate

PlanetArk UK

14th May 2007

LONDON - The United States is trying to dilute a declaration on global warming to be made at next month's G8 summit, sources close to the talks said on Friday, putting it on a collision course with hosts Germany.

In a draft of the declaration dated April 2007 seen by Reuters, the United States objects to a pledge to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius this century and cut world greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Washington also questions whether the United Nations is the best forum to tackle the climate crisis and rejects a section stating that carbon markets are a key means of developing and deploying climate-friendly technologies.

"They have rejected any mention of targets and timetables, don't want the UN to get more involved and refuse to endorse carbon trading because it must by definition involve targets," one well-placed source said on condition of anonymity.

The leaders of Britain, the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, Italy and France will attend the summit hosted by Germany in the Baltic resort town of Heligendamm from June 6-8.

Also present at the meeting will be the heads of state of South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, China and India as the key group of major developing countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to push through wide ranging declarations committing to global action on climate warming and energy security, but is meeting equally strong resistance from Washington, supported by Canada.

"There is a very serious game of poker being played, which is very disappointing at this late stage and given the scale of the problem," another source close to the negotiations said.

"It is an open question whether Merkel will be prepared to accept a watered-down declaration or break with G8 tradition and declare a failure on climate change.

"Either way the ink will still be wet when the final declaration is made," the source said.

Scientists predict that average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 3.0 degrees Celsius this century due to carbon gases from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, causing floods, famines and putting million of lives at risk.

The Kyoto Protocol is the only global agreement on curbing carbon emissions, but it was rejected by the United States in 2001, is not binding on China and India and effectively expires in 2012. Negotiations to expand and extend Kyoto beyond 2012 are barely moving, and diplomats are hoping that the G8 summit will agree a declaration strong enough to revitalise the talks.

They say success at Heiligendamm would raise hopes that a meeting of environment ministers under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali in December could agree outline principles for new post-2012 negotiations.

Failure in Germany could delay the process even further and risk leaving a post-2012 vacuum given the time it is likely to take to negotiate and ratify any Kyoto replacement.

Story by Jeremy Lovell


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