Britain Criticizes US Climate Change Record
UNITED NATIONS — In another jab at its closest ally, Britain criticized U.S. environmental policy again on Thursday, urging the Bush administration to place climate change high on its agenda.
At a U.N. event marking the entry into force of the Kyoto accord on global warming, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, said it was "important that climate change rises up the US agenda."
He called for a "strong U.S. contribution" to international talks on cutting gas emissions beyond the targets set by the Kyoto agreement. "We need much more effort. The post-Kyoto regime will require serious, concerted international commitment," he said.
The pact, which took effect Wednesday, limits emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for rising world temperatures, melting glaciers and rising oceans.
The United States has refused to ratify the agreement, saying the pact would harm the U.S. economy.
"Global climate policy, or any environmental initiative, cannot be considered in isolation of economic and energy interests," Republican Senator Chuck Hagel told a conference sponsored by the United Nations Foundation.
Jones Parry suggested U.S. concern about economic impact was unfounded, saying there was "no need for a trade-off" between environmental protection and economic growth. "Emissions reduction can be achieved without serious economic cost," he said.
Washington has also criticized the Kyoto agreement for a lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economies such as China and India.
"Any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the United States and other developed countries will be eclipsed by emissions from developing nations, such as China, which will soon be the world's largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases," Hagel said.
Britain has made climate change a top priority this year for its presidency of the G8 group of the world's wealthy nations, and its presidency of the European Union.
Jones Parry called global warming an "urgent problem," noting that the five hottest years on record have occurred since 1997.
He singled out the United States as a major polluter, saying that it has only 4 percent of the world's population, but produces 20 percent of global emissions.
"It consumes almost a quarter of the world's energy, more than China, Russia and Japan combined," he said, adding that the average U.S. citizen produces twice as much carbon per year as a British or Japanese counterpart.
Hagel agreed that the United States must remain engaged in international initiatives to reduce manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
This week, he introduced legislation that would use the amount of carbon emitted relative to economic output as the baseline for U.S. global climate policy.
Source: Associated Press