From: Reuters
Published June 17, 2008 09:44 AM

Major economies must take lead in climate battle: U.S.

LONDON (Reuters) - The world's major economies emit most of the world's climate-warming greenhouse gases and must take the lead in reducing them, a senior American climate negotiator said on Tuesday.

Paula Dobriansky, U.S. under secretary of state for global affairs, said the 16 countries and the European Union in the Major Economies Meeting (MEM) forum were responsible for 80 percent of the world's greenhouse gases and consumed 80 percent of the world's energy.


And, since MEM nations also accounted for 80 percent of the world's economy, they could well afford to act, she said.

"We are looking forward to a strong statement from the Major Economies leaders in July," she told London's Chatham House think-tank, referring to a meeting due to take place on the margins of the July 7-9 G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan.

"What we hope in particular is that the leaders can reach agreement on a shared long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal and on a stated willingness to have mid-term national goals and plans reflected in binding international commitments."

But she stressed major emerging economies would not be required to act as swiftly or dramatically as major developed economies.

The MEM groups the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, South Africa and Britain, as well as the European Union, and involves the United Nations as an observer.

Dobriansky, speaking at a two-day Chatham House climate change meeting, said Washington would sign up to binding emission cuts but only if there was action commensurate with the size of their economies from countries like China and India, whose economies are growing at around 10 percent a year.

Those two nations in particular have said they see no reason to sign up to a solution to a problem they did not cause, although their rhetoric has softened recently.

The G8 and MEM summits next month are aimed at revitalizing international climate negotiations that are supposed to end in Copenhagen in December 2009 with agreement on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012.

But draft declarations from both meetings seen by Reuters earlier this month showed Washington completely at odds with the European Union on targets and timetables.

Observers note the difficulty Germany, as G8 president, had last year forcing though a strong climate declaration, and say the task facing a group of 16 nations and the EU -- with diverse backgrounds and agendas -- would be far harder.

The G8 hopes to formalize an agreement struck last year to halve global carbon emissions by 2050. To do that, emissions would need to peak within 10-15 years and then fall at an increasing rate. But both ideas are rejected by the U.S.

One senior delegate who declined to be identified said there was no way global emissions would peak in the given timeframe.

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