Bush 'ready to tackle climate change'

George Bush has signalled that the USA is willing to act on climate change, calling on 14 of the world's biggest polluters to agree on long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012.

The Bush administration has so far refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, the existing international agreement on tackling GHG emissions, and looks set to continue to do so.

But before the Kyoto agreement has run its course and expires in 2012, a new consensus must be drawn up, says Bush.

In a nutshell, he is proposing that the 'dirty dozen' - the industrialised world's 12 biggest producers of CO2 - get together with China and India and thrash out an agreement which would see all 14 states take steps to reduce their emissions.

This would include setting global targets and require each of the states to "establish mid-term national targets and programmes that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs".

No figures or suggestions of what these targets might be were mentioned in the speech.

The announcement ahead of next week's G8 Summit in Germany, where climate change will be high on the agenda, has left commentators scratching their heads.

On the one hand, world leaders have welcomed this apparent change of heart from the White House while on the other environmentalists have dismissed the so-far-vague commitment as at best hot air and at worst an attempt to derail existing agreements and hijack the post-Kyoto debate.

Dr Saleemul Huq, head of climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was among the many critics urging caution rather than celebration.

"President Bush's so-called plan on climate change is nothing other than an effort to derail the ongoing process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)," he said.

"All developing countries, including major ones like China, Brazil and India, are deeply engaged in the ongoing, and so far very fruitful, dialogue under the UNFCCC.

"They are working to agree a future climate change regime after 2012 when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends, and hope to reach a consensus by the next meeting of the UNFCCC in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007.

Bush's idea of initiating new, parallel talks between just a few countries is nothing but an effort to derail the ongoing talks under the UNFCCC.

"Developing countries should not fall into his trap of delaying action under a UN framework."

Sam Bond



Waste & resource management
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