Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 1 News List

EU says US blocks talks to halt global warming


An activist dressed as US President George W. Bush on Friday dances in simulated rain in Buenos Aires to protest against the US government's stance on global warming.


The European Union charged that Washington has blocked efforts to move global warming discussions past 2012, as 12 days of marathon UN negotiations with 5,000 delegates from around the world came to an end on Friday.

The EU wanted the nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change -- including the US, which has since rejected the treaty -- to negotiate on a multilateral basis and schedule talks for next year on reducing gas emissions after 2012, when the Kyoto agreement expires.

But Pieter van Geel, the environmental secretary for the Netherlands, which now holds the EU presidency, said he was disappointed by the results.

"I'm not optimistic," van Geel told reporters in an interview. "The US knows this is the first step toward discussing climate change, and they are very reluctant to do it under the UN."

EU representatives spearheaded a huge Old World effort in the fight against global warming. But in the end, the US, which produces nearly a quarter of the world's greenhouse gasses that are blamed for a global temperature rise, turned a deaf ear to European pleas.

"We have not managed to even push open the gate to the political future of the climate," said a German negotiator, Karsten Sach.

Negotiators from China, India and Brazil backed Washington's efforts to block talks on post-2012 emissions, charging that the world's richest nations -- which have produced most of the pollutants -- still had not done enough to lower their emissions.

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner noted that many developing countries suffer from heavy debt burdens and are limited in their ability to respond to the environmental threat. Developed countries are always demanding financial debts be paid back, but they are not willing to own up to their own environmental debts to the world.

"This double morality is unacceptable," Kirchner said.

The EU and other industrial countries like Canada and Japan were optimistic, however, because the Kyoto Protocol will go into effect on Feb. 16 despite the US' opposition. Russia's ratification this year passed the necessary threshold for the treaty to kick in.

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