UK chief scientist confident on 2009 climate deal
SYDNEY (Reuters) - A new global climate deal should be reachable by 2009, with nations outside the Kyoto Protocol more sympathetic to such a pact, the U.K.'s chief scientific adviser said on Tuesday.
"The point is it really needs to be in place by 2009 if we're going to have a process to operate from 2012," David King told Reuters.
The Kyoto Protocol obliges 36 industrialized countries to cut their overall emissions of greenhouse gases to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. But the United States and China, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have not signed up.
"I am quite optimistic of the new deal coming into place in 2009," King said in an interview in Sydney. Australia is also not a Kyoto signatory.
King, a chemist who has held the chief science adviser post since 2000 and who has described climate change as a greater threat than terrorism, sees U.S. involvement as key to any new climate change deal.
"It's not going to be possible to reach an agreement without the United States being a major player," said King.
"So we do need leadership from the United States and we do need a clear position in terms of providing targets, globally and nationally, and in providing a fiscal process and economic process that will drive these targets forward," he said.
King said he was optimistic that Washington was beginning to soften its position.
"I think it's quite clear there is a thawing and movement but we've got some distance to go," he said.
U.S. President George W. Bush has rejected mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, saying last week that new environmental technology and voluntary measures were central to tackling climate change.
King though warned that new energy technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gases need to be economically driven.
"What would drive the owner of a coal-fired power station to capture the carbon dioxide and bury it under the ground? That's going to cost money," King said.
"We also need an economic process to see that these technologies are driven through. I think we can even grow our economies through investment in low carbon technologies, through investment in buildings that use very little energy."
Tackling climate change also required the world's populations to change their energy-inefficient lifestyles, said King.
"For some reason energy consumption has become a status symbol," he said. "If we invert that and look down on people who are wasting energy, I think we can begin to manage the problem." "Treat energy as a very precious commodity...never use energy unless you are making good use of it. We're talking here about a culture change."