Ministers from 20 Countries Meet in London to Discuss Climate Change
LONDON — The United States repeated its objection to the Kyoto climate change treaty Tuesday, as ministers from 20 countries gathered in London for a conference on global warming.
James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol were "unreasonable."
"The target that was given to the United States was so unreasonable in our ability to meet it that the only way we could have met it was to shift energy intensive manufacturing to other countries. That has economic effects, that also has job effects," he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Britain has made tackling global warming a priority for its presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that securing U.S. support is a significant diplomatic challenge.
The 1997 accord, which came into effect last month, aims to cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions worldwide to 8 percent below the 1990 level by 2012.
The White House has argued that meeting the target would cost millions of U.S. jobs, many of them to Third World countries where environmental pollution would continue anyway.
Connaughton repeated Washington's demand for greater investment in scientific research to boost green technologies, so that economies can grow without damaging the environment.
"The protocol was well intentioned, but I think it produced some quite consequential, unintended effects and we are trying to now find a portfolio in which three words are important: technology, technology and technology," he told the BBC.
The challenge of developing such technology is likely to dominate discussions Tuesday between energy and environment ministers in London. The event is scheduled to be addressed by Britain's Treasury chief Gordon Brown and Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett.
Blair has said it would be futile to try to overcome hostility in U.S. President George. W Bush's administration and Congress to the Kyoto accord. Like Washington, he is encouraging countries to boost research into green technology.
He also wants to build a solid international consensus that global warming poses a serious threat, and that it is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Connaughton appeared to have reservations about such a direct, scientific link.
"We are still working on the issue of causation, the extent to which humans are a factor, but they may be, as well as our understanding of what effects may result from that over the course of the next century," he told the BBC.
Source: Associated Press