Negotiations on charting the next steps on combatting climate change were going down to the wire yesterday, with the US cast once more in the villain's role.
A core group of diplomats were haggling over a proposal for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to launch talks on making deep, long-term cuts in this heat-trapping pollution.
These talks would focus on commitments made under the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol, after the present pledging period runs out in 2012.
The proposal is couched only in the vaguest terms, yet it has run into hostility from the US.
Washington walked out of Kyoto in 2001, citing the cost of meeting the treaty's legal requirements to curb dangerous greenhouse gases.
"The game isn't over, the negotiations will be extremely tough," French Environment Minister Nelly Olin told journalists late on Thursday, but added defiantly: "If the United States says no, that will not stop us moving forward."
The US nearly destroyed Kyoto by abandoning it, although the deal was eventually saved and took effect in February this year.
But even if all its commitments are made, the outcome will make only a tiny advance against what is a gigantic problem.
There is universal recognition that future efforts against man-made global warming are doomed unless the world's top carbon polluter is included.
Almost as important is to get highly populous, fast-growing developing countries, such as China (the world's No. 2 polluter) and India, in a closer cooperation.
Under the present Kyoto format, only industrialized countries that have ratified the accord have to make specific emissions cuts in greenhouse gases.
polluters meet again
Meanwhile,Australia said yesterday that six of the world's biggest polluters will meet in Sydney next month to discuss global warming.
The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate between Australia, the US, Japan, India, South Korea and China was unveiled in July aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by developing energy technology.
Australia said the Jan. 11-12 meeting of the group, which grew from a brainstorming meeting of 20 countries on climate change in Britain at the start of the year, would be attended by foreign, energy and environment ministers from the six nations.
Officials in Canberra initially said the talks would be held in the southern city of Adelaide last month, but attempts to arrange the talks proved too difficult.
According to figures released by the partnership, the six founding partners of the new pact account for 45 percent of the world's population, 48 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 48 percent of the world's energy consumption.
The pact, dubbed "beyond Kyoto," has been described as complimentary to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions that the US and Australia have refused to ratify.