Poor States Seen Escaping Kyoto Climate Caps
BONN, Germany Poor nations are seeking aid and technology to combat global warming with no expectation at U.N. climate talks that they will be forced to join rich nations and cut emissions of heat-trapping gases.
How to involve developing countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil in a long-term fight to restrain industrial emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet is one of the biggest puzzles at the May 15-26 climate meeting.
So far, poor countries are urging rich nations to give them incentives to brake their rising emissions from burning fossil fuels. Developing countries reject cuts on emissions imposed on rich nations under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, running to 2012.
"I don't see any of the industrialised countries at this point arguing for quantified emission limitation targets" for poor nations after 2012, said Richard Kinley, officer-in-charge of the U.N. Climate Secretariat in Bonn.
He said that poor countries' drive for incentives spanned aid, investments and supplies of new energy technologies such as solar power or wind power.
Kyoto obliges about 40 rich nations to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 as part of a first step to reverse a buildup of gases that many scientists say could trigger catastrophic changes such as droughts, heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.
Still, the European Union says that all nations should take in the long-term fight, noting that countries bound by the Kyoto Protocol emit only 30 percent of all greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and cars.
China and other developing nations in the group of 77 said in a statement that targets for rich states beyond 2012 should be "substantially stricter" than the current goal. It did not mention any contributions by the developing world.
Poor countries say they must use more energy to lift them from poverty and note that their per capita emissions are a fraction of those in rich states which have burnt fossil fuels unhindered since the Industrial Revolution.
The lack of any firm targets for developing nations in fighting greenhouse gases to 2012 was one reason President George W. Bush gave for pulling the United States out of Kyoto in 2001. He also said that Kyoto's caps would cost U.S. jobs.
"No," U.S. chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson told Reuters when asked if Washington was reconsidering its opposition to Kyoto.
He said the United States was pushing ahead with its own goals of big investments in hydrogen and other clean energies while sharing technology with the Third World. The United States accounts for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Some developing nations favour creation of a new market to slow deforestation by giving farmers credits for not felling tropical forests, which store carbon dioxide. They argue that trees are now only of value when cut down and sold.
Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the European Commission's Energy and Climate unit, said the EU did not envisage binding caps for poor nations under a widening of Kyoto from 2012.
He told Reuters there were signs that poor states were acting. He praised China, for instance, for making "a major and aggressive drive for energy efficiency."
And he noted that incentives include a system promoting investments in Third World clean energy, ranging from hydroelectric schemes in India to a scheme to burn the waste from sugar cane in Brazil to generate energy.