US President George W. Bush has invited major world economies to a multinational climate change conference in Washington on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, the White House announced yesterday.
Bush has invited representatives from Australia, Brazil, the UK, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the European Commission and UN, it said.
The conference, which Bush first announced on May 31, will aim to set the stage for setting a long-term goal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
"The United States is committed to collaborating with other major economies to agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework by the end of 2008, which would contribute to a global agreement under the UN Frame-work Convention on Climate Change by 2009," Bush said in his invitation.
The US president, frequently accused in Europe of dragging his feet on efforts to curb climate change, said he would address the conference, which will be hosted by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
While the EU sets climate policy for its members, Bush has asked British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi to send representatives, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Bush has invited the European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso but also "wanted to make sure that these leaders, who have shown great leadership and great interest on the issue of climate change, are represented as well," she said.
Meanwhile, the first-ever UN General Assembly meeting on climate change needed an extra day so speakers from worried nations could discuss global warming's impact and the need for international action.
Calling climate change "the most pressing and important international issue of our time," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said on Thursday that "the world is actually motivated on the issue in a way it wasn't" in January -- "and the political momentum has to just grow and grow."
Years of intense negotiations are expected to start at a December meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. It will focus on replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which requires 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, when the accord expires.
The General Assembly meeting is part of a major UN effort to generate support from political leaders and ordinary people around the world who have been affected by drought, floods, searing heat and other climate changes.
After an opening day for panel discussions, a second, final day was scheduled for speeches. But nearly 100 of the 192 UN member states wanted to speak, so an extra session was held on Thursday.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has made climate change a top priority since taking office on Jan. 1, urged all countries to reach an agreement by 2009 on a successor to the Kyoto protocol.