APEC draft climate statement seen a compromise
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asia-Pacific officials agreed on Friday to a draft climate statement which reaffirms a U.N. treaty on fighting global warming, while urging non-binding "aspirational targets" for greenhouse gas reductions, a delegate said.
But the climate statement, which has emerged after tough negotiations following a split between developing and developed members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, remains to be agreed to by the 21 Asia-Pacific leaders.
"Its a compromise statement," an Asian delegate at the APEC Sydney forum told Reuters, adding it reaffirms the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and backs "aspirational targets," proposed by Australia.
"Clearly the countries got what they wanted in the draft."
Host Australian Prime Minister John Howard placed climate change at the top of the APEC agenda, seeking a post-Kyoto Protocol consensus to be called the "Sydney Declaration."
Green groups have said the APEC leaders' summit would be a failure if it did not agree to binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, but Howard has said no binding targets will be set.
Howard has pushed for "aspirational targets" and for each nation to set their own climate change goals.
Developing economies -- including China -- are strongly opposed to any wording that commits them to binding targets and some say they would prefer climate change goals be handled at a U.N. meeting later this month.
Howard's friend and strong ally President George W. Bush has said in Sydney he is prepared to support a strong leaders' statement on climate change and urged China, a developing nation and a major polluter, so do the same.
Both Australia and the United States say Kyoto, which sets binding greenhouse reduction targets, is flawed because it does not include major polluters China and India.
Both Howard and Bush have said at APEC that China and India must be included in any climate change
The draft climate statement will go up to APEC leaders when they begin their two day summit on Saturday.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that negotiations on the APEC climate statement were "very difficult."
"If we can get a good declaration out of this, that will be a very great achievement," Downer told reporters earlier on Friday. "But I make no predictions about how those negotiations will go."
Under APEC's consensus-based approach, any statement on climate change would be non-binding and it would be up to member countries' decision on whether to meet the targets.