EU Presses U.S. on Gas Emissions, Global Warming
BRUSSELS The European Union ramped up pressure on the United States on Tuesday to do more to control greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, saying U.S. reliance on new technology was not working.
"Technology alone is not enough. This has become very clear from the policy that the United States is following," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told a news conference.
"According to their approach, they are increasing their emissions, right now about 15 percent more than in 1990 ... We have decreased our emissions, we are below the 1990 level."
A U.N. conference of about 190 states begins on Nov. 28 in Montreal, Canada, to discuss ways to combat global warming after a first phase of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Under Kyoto, rich nations are meant to cut their emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
The United States, the world's biggest polluter, pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations until after 2012. Australia has also pulled out.
U.S. President George W. Bush has stressed voluntary measures and big investments in new technology, like "clean coal" or hydrogen, rather than Kyoto-style caps on emissions.
"The EU will do all it can to persuade all countries to move forward. A determined action is needed at the global level if we are to win the battle with climate change," said Dimas.
Scientists say the world's temperature could rise by 1.4-5.8 Celsius (2.5-10.5F) this century, bringing droughts and storms, while melting polar ice caps will raise sea levels and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people.
Most agree that a main cause of warming is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. The EU also operates an emissions trading scheme to give industries incentives to cut emissions.
The EU is on track overall with its Kyoto targets, helped by a collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries, according to U.N. data. But some countries, like Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece, are further above Kyoto goals than the United States.
The EU sought to hammer its message home by launching, along with the WWF environmental group, a campaign to promote "climate change witnesses" or ordinary people whose lives are affected by global warming.
Among the first five "witnesses", presented in Brussels, was an Italian organic honey producer who said his bees were confused by changing weather patterns and a forester from Germany, who noticed spruce trees disappearing from the Steigerwald forest in Bavaria.