Nairobi Talks to Seek Wider Fight on Warming
NAIROBI European nations will try to push the United States and developing countries to get more involved in a U.N.-led fight against global warming beyond 2012 at 189-nation talks opening in Nairobi on Monday.
The Nov. 6-17 U.N. climate talks will also look for ways to help developing nations, especially the poorest in Africa, to adapt to feared impacts of climate change such as floods, erosion, drought and rising sea levels.
Kenyan Environment Minister Kivutha Kibwana will open the talks in Nairobi, to be attended by 6,000 delegates, a week after a British report warned of apocalyptic long-term costs of ignoring the problem.
Delegates say the talks will focus on how to widen a fight against warming beyond the Kyoto Protocol, capping emissions of greenhouse gases by 35 industrial nations until 2012, to include outsiders such as China, India and the United States.
"Nearly everyone agrees that the Kyoto Protocol, even if fully applied, would be just a little drop in the emissions' bucket," said Detlef Sprinz, a professor at the University of Michigan and researcher at Germany's Potsdam Institute.
The European Union wants wider participation from all in the longer term. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in London on Friday to work closely to build a strong international alliance.
Of the top four emitters of greenhouse gases -- the United States, China, Russia and China -- only Russia is bound by Kyoto. Washington pulled out in 2001, saying caps on emissions would cost U.S. jobs.
KYOTO NATIONS SHOULD LEAD
Developing nations say Kyoto countries should lead the way, arguing that they are mainly responsible for warming widely blamed on burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars. But emissions in developing nations are surging.
"A global challenge needs a global solution," Finnish Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam said. Finland holds the current EU presidency. Kyoto nations account for only about a third of world emissions.
Thousands of environmental campaigners marched in cities including London and Sydney on Saturday to urge more action.
Nairobi looks likely to be a round of sparring with no major breakthroughs. Delegates seem unlikely even to set a deadline for working out a successor -- environmentalists favour 2008 to give investors time to adapt for new rules beyond 2012.
At last year's talks in Montreal, ministers agreed to fix new rules "as soon as possible" and to ensure no gap between the end of Kyoto in 2012 and the start of a new system in 2013.
The U.S. argument that Kyoto would be too costly came under challenge last week with a report that said the world could face an economic crisis on a par with the 1930s Depression by ignoring climate change.
"I hope the report will have a huge impact in Nairobi ... the contents are pretty frightening," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said of the British study by former World Bank Chief Economist Nicholas Stern.