U.S. Turns Down Meeting on Climate Change
U.S. Turns Down Meeting on Climate Change
BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 19, 2000 (ENS)
- The United States
has rejected an offer to meet European Union ministers this week on
the issue of global warming.
U.S. chief negotiator, Frank Loy, said convening ministers, but then
failing to reach agreement, would not advance common goals.
The ministerial talks scheduled for Oslo,
Norway later this week have been
cancelled. The attempt to restart
negotiations follows the collapse of last
month's climate summit in The Hague,
The 6th Conference of Parties (COP 6) to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ended
in failure largely because of European Union countries and a U.S. led
group of nations' inability to agree on critical issues.
In particular, the question of whether forest sinks should be allowed
to generate emission reduction credits under the clean development
mechanism remains a major hurdle.
The idea of planting forests to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) was
one of the more controversial proposals designed to help countries
meet greenhouse gas emissions targets.
The 15 member European Union leads those countries who argue that
such flexible mechanisms should not come at the expense of
countries making real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at
home. The U.S. leads a so called Umbrella Group of nations, including
Canada, Australia and Japan, pushing for a looser interpretation of
emissions targets and how they should be achieved.
COP 6 ends in failure.
Under the 1997 Kyoto
committed to cut their
emissions to an
average of 5.2 percent
below 1990 levels by
the period 2008-2012. But the Protocol will not take effect until it is
ratified by 55 percent of the nations emitting at least 55 percent of
the six greenhouse gases.
COP 6 was supposed to provide the basis for ratification and entry
into force of the Protocol by 2002.
Since its failure, ministers tried to stitch a deal back together in
Ottawa earlier this month, to no avail. "This was the last throw for
the Hague," said UK deputy prime minister John Prescott of the
scrapped Oslo meeting.
On Monday, European Union environment ministers held a telephone
conference with Umbrella group representatives on day one of their
quarterly Environment Council meeting in Brussels.
During the discussion, Loy, said the proposed Oslo meeting would risk
being a failure because there were too many fundamental differences
between the two blocs.
Illustrating these divisions, both sides accused the other of reneging
on elements for a deal agreed in The Hague and of adding new
In a letter sent to European Union
ministers before the telephone
conference, Loy said "sinks must not
be excluded from the clean
development mechanism, explicitly or
implicitly." Any European Union
perception that the U.S. position had
been different showed an "apparent
misunderstanding" on the part of the
Europeans, he wrote.
"You can judge for yourself who is
respecting the spirit of The Hague and who is not," said French
environment minister and Environment Council president Dominique
"It was clearly written [in The Hague] that there wouldn't be sinks in
the clean development mechanism. It's difficult to understand if there
is or is not a will [in the U.S.] to succeed."
Loy said he was "particularly disappointed" that the European Union
had "reopened numerous settled matters, such as domestic action
and compliance consequences, on which there was not
misunderstanding in The Hague, and added a number of new
Some European Union ministers believe compromise with the U.S. will
be even harder to reach under when new U.S. President George Bush
"Certainly the negotiating machinery changes when George Bush
comes in, that is why this window of opportunity is absolutely
important to get some settlement now," Prescott told BBC radio.
"If we don't get an agreement, all will be losers, whether it's [Bill]
Clinton's regime or Bush's regime," Prescott said. Clinton leaves office
on January 20.
accused the U.S. and the
Umbrella Group of
confirming its judgment on
COP 6, which was that it
"would be remembered as
the moment when
the promise of global cooperation to protect planet earth."
"The U.S. continues to insist on exploiting loopholes in the original
Kyoto Treaty, rather than taking the threat of climate change
seriously and addressing its domestic greenhouse gas emissions,
which are the largest in the world," said Greenpeace spokesman
The U.S. accounts for four percent of the world's population but
produces 25 percent of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions.
"One can only hope and pray that the newly elected George W. Bush
will realize that whatever mandate he does have, it is not one that
allows him to destroy the climate."
Ministers' next official opportunity to discuss climate change will be in
Bonn, Germany, May 2001, at the 14th session of the Subsidiary
Bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
COP 7 is scheduled to take place from October 29 to November 9,
2001, in Marrakech, Morocco.
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