The Heat Is Online

UN Agrees to Discuss Post-2012 Goals

UN poised for new climate talks, Dec. 9, 2005


Delegates at a UN climate conference in Canada have reportedly agreed on talks to cut greenhouse gases after 2012 but it is unclear if the US is included.


Sources close to the negotiations in Montreal said an informal agreement had been reached on the last day to plan long-term action on carbon emissions.


The Bush administration is wary of new commitments. It rejected Kyoto in 2001 saying it would damage the US economy.

Former US President Bill Clinton has made a strong plea for acceptance.


Addressing the conference at the invitation of the City of Montreal, he said to loud applause that there should be a "serious commitment to a clean-energy future".


If existing clean energy and energy conservation technologies were applied in full, Mr Clinton said, the US could "meet and surpass the Kyoto targets easily in a way that would strengthen, not weaken, [its] economy".


Global warming and melting ice, he suggested, could lead to a future climate conference in Canada being held on "a raft somewhere".


Last week delegates finalised a rule book for Kyoto, formally making it fully operational after years of negotiation and ratification.


The 1997 treaty commits industrialised countries to cut their combined carbon emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by the years 2008 - 2012.


The Montreal agreement would give the 157 Kyoto signatory-states seven years to negotiate and ratify new measures.


Delegates talked until 0630 (1130 GMT) on Friday with the closing session due to begin just a few hours later.


'A duck is a duck'


The all-night haggling led to the chairman of the talks, Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion, producing a bland text, the BBC's Elizabeth Blunt reports from Montreal.


The discussion and workshops he is proposing are "without prejudice to any future negotiations, commitments, process, framework or mandate", according to riders added to the text.


But US lead negotiator Harlan Watson is reported to have told the Canadians "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck - it's a duck" before walking out of the overnight talks.


In other words, our correspondent says, they feel they are being lured into negotiations on future commitments and they want nothing to do with it.


Engaging the US was the great aim of the Canadian hosts of this meeting, our correspondent says.


Although a last-minute reversal is always possible, it now seems very unlikely that they are going to succeed, she adds.


Earlier, the US apparently took strong exception when Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin called on it to heed "the conscience of the world".


'Saudi reservations'


Environmentalists have described the US position at the talks as irresponsible.


"By walking out of the room, this shows just how willing the US administration is to walk away from a healthy planet and its responsibilities," said Jennifer Morgan, climate change expert for environmental group WWF.


The plans for a post-Kyoto dialogue have also been challenged by leading oil-producer Saudi Arabia.


It called for clean-energy measures to be approved by a vote in each state's national parliament - a measure other negotiators say would bog the process down.


Saudi Oil Minister Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi asked for more action to compensate petroleum-exporting countries standing to lose revenue from alternative energies.


Japanese Environment Minister Yuriko Koike called on developing countries like India and China, which are exempt from Kyoto, to join in the fight against global warming.


Indian negotiator Andimuthu Raja said growth and the elimination of poverty must take precedence over mitigating the effects of climate change.