According to the delegation, Canada (see related story), Russia, Iran, China and Japan, have all expressed serious concerns about the recent scientific evidence of climate change reported in the Third Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see related story), and on the new US position on the Kyoto Protocol (see related story). The countries stated that climate change is a global environmental problem, that requires a global policy response.

The European deputation consisted of the Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson, the Belgian State Secretary of Energy and Sustainable Development Olivier Deleuze, and Jos Delbeke of the European Commission. “It must be in all our interest that the years of work and the efforts that have been put into the Kyoto protocol are not abandoned,” said Larsson. “We will lose a lot of time if we start from scratch.”

All the countries approached by the delegation expressed the intention of encouraging the US to return to the Kyoto talks process, allowing it to be finalised in a timely manner. “The Kyoto Protocol provides a solid framework for cost-effective action,” said Deleuze. “Climate action also provides substantial economic opportunities and advantages for early movers.”

The EU has agreed to intensify its co-operation with all the countries visited, and has repeated its preparedness to continue the ratification process with or without the United States. The assessment of the likelihood of the US returning to the Kyoto process varied between countries, with a Japanese delegation to the US finding encouraging signals.

“Reducing greenhouse gases is really a credibility issue for the developed countries,” said Delbeke. “The EU believes that it is not realistic to ask the developing countries to reduce or limit their emissions if we cannot show that we, as the biggest emitters, have done something ourselves.”

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