Bali fetes 10th birthday of Kyoto Protocol
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - A U.N. climate conference in Bali held a half-hearted 10th birthday party for the Kyoto Protocol on Tuesday with Japan likening the U.N. pact meant to curb greenhouse gases to a wayward child.
Many countries, including Japan, are far above goals set under Kyoto for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels. In Bali, about 10,000 delegates from 190 nations are considering how to overhaul Kyoto beyond 2012.
"Happy Birthday," Japan's Environment Minister, Ichiro Kamoshita, said as he cut a three-tier birthday cake about 1.8 meters (six feet) high, decorated with 10 candles and model wind turbines, palm trees and Balinese huts.
Delegates applauded and sang "Happy Birthday, dear Kyoto" in English. The pact was agreed on December 11, 1997, in the Japanese city of Kyoto and binds 36 industrial nations to cut greenhouse gases by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
"The Kyoto Protocol targets are proving to be difficult to achieve not only for Japan, for other countries as well," Kamoshita said.
"It's only 10 years old...and we have worked hard to raise a child. Still, at the age of 10, children can be quite difficult, and so the Kyoto Protocol too," he said.
Still, he said Kyoto was an "extremely important first step" to try to make wrenching shifts away from fossil fuels towards clean energies, such as wind or solar power, to help avert more heatwaves, droughts, floods, disease and rising sea levels.
Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will hand over ratification documents for Kyoto on Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Bali, leaving the United States as the only developed nation outside Kyoto.
President George W. Bush almost dealt Kyoto a fatal blow in 2001 when he rejected the pact, saying it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded 2008-2012 targets for developing nations. Agreed in 1997, Kyoto only entered into force in 2005.
And emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 rich nations, including Kyoto countries and the United States, rose to 18.2 billion metric tons in 2005, just below a 1990 record of 18.7 billion before the collapse of the Soviet Union cut emissions from the former communist bloc.
The December 3-14 Bali meeting will try to launch two years of talks on a global pact to succeed Kyoto and include outsiders led by the United States and poor nations such as China and India. Kyoto only accounts for about a third of world emissions.
"Mega developing countries have to commit themselves to clear measures to reduce emissions," said Raul Estrada of Argentina, who presided over the talks that led to Kyoto. "Industrialized countries have to take the lead."
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(Editing by David Fogarty)