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Archive for Thursday, December 8, 2005

U.S. resists ‘post-Kyoto’ push at climate conference

December 8, 2005

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— The United States on Wednesday rejected a Canadian bid to draw Washington into future global talks on climate change, a new round that would extend mandatory cutbacks in carbon emissions.

"It is our belief that progress cannot be made through these formalized discussions," U.S. delegation head Paula Dobriansky told reporters as a two-week U.N. climate conference, involving more than 180 nations, entered its final days.

Arctic natives, meanwhile, announced they had filed an international human-rights complaint against the United States, to try to pressure Washington to cap the "greenhouse gases" they blame for the accelerated warming that is melting their icy homelands.

Bangladesh Ambassador Rafiq Ahmed Khan, whose low-lying land faces future flooding from seas rising with global warming, spoke on behalf of the poorest nations.

"Only strong political will can show the way," he told delegates. "These impacts are felt mostly by the people who are poor and most vulnerable."

It was the first annual U.N. climate conference since the Kyoto Protocol took effect last February, requiring 35 industrialized countries to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases that act like a greenhouse trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Among major developed nations, only the United States and Australia reject that agreement, worked out in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and designed to produce an average 5 percent reduction of emissions below 1990 levels by 2012.

Under the protocol, talks must now begin on emissions controls after 2012, and Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion, looking for a compromise route forward, this week proposed a plan for "discussions to explore and analyze approaches for long-term cooperative action to address climate change," with a deadline for agreement by 2008.

The Bush administration says it prefers to deal with other governments on a bilateral or regional basis, on financing new energy-saving technologies, and on voluntary approaches to reducing emissions.

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