Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 7 News List

UN must lead on climate: Bush

LONG-TERM The US president believes the 16 principal polluters should create an international clean technology fund to help finance projects in the developing world

AFP , WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush went on the offensive on climate change on Friday, proposing a summit among major emitters of greenhouse gases that would set a long-term global goal for curbing this dangerous pollution.

Bush also endorsed the UN as the final arena for tackling global warming, but gave not an inch of ground to those demanding the US slap a legally-binding cap on its own massive carbon emissions.

"Energy security and climate change are two of the great challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously," Bush told a meeting of world's 16 biggest emitters.

He called on the group to set "a long-term goal" for reducing global greenhouse gases -- the outcome of burning the fossil fuels which also drive the world's economy.

"By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem. And by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it," Bush said.

"By next summer, we will convene a meeting of heads of state to finalize the goal and other elements of this approach, including a strong and transparent system for measuring our progress towards meeting the goal we set," he said.

But he also rammed home the message that the US -- hugely dependent on oil -- stood by its six-year-long opposition to setting mandatory caps on its own emissions.

"We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people," he said.

"Each nation will design its own separate strategies for making progress towards this long-term goal. These strategies will reflect each country's different energy resources, different stages of development and different economic needs," he said.

Bush put a heavy emphasis on helping developing countries obtain "secure, cost-effective and proliferation-resistant nuclear power."

"Nuclear power is the one existing source of energy that can generate massive amounts of electricity without causing any air pollution or greenhouse-gas emissions," Bush said.

The EU, Canada and Japan share the goal of halving annual global emissions by 50 percent by 2050, although their proposed baseline varies between 1990 and this year. The US has no such target at the moment.

Bush proposed the 16 economies "join together to create a new international clean technology fund," supported by government contributions from around the world, to "help finance clean energy projects in the developing world."

To applause, he hoped his Washington forum would advance negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent of the Kyoto Protocol.

Key talks on post-2012 pollution cuts take place in Bali, Indonesia, from Dec. 3 to Dec. 14, and Kyoto's defenders have feared Bush would push an alternative, voluntary tack to their pact's tougher commitments.

UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer said he was reassured by Bush's remarks.

"He pointed to the centrality of the UN process," he said.

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