The Obama administration announced Saturday that it had organized a series of meetings among representatives of 16 countries and the European Union to discuss energy and climate issues.
The meetings, to be held in Washington in April and in La Maddalena, Italy, in July, will seek to resolve longstanding issues that have blocked the development of an international climate treaty.
The participants, who include Chinese and Indian representatives, will also try to create â€œconcrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,â€ according to a White House news release. The talks, called the Major Economies Meetings on Energy Security and Climate Change, echo in name and goals an initiative begun in the last two years of the Bush administration.
Those meetings gathered developing and developed countries that were the largest emitters of the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming. The meetings were cast by the Bush administration as intended to set long-term goals for reducing emissions and to seek actions that could be taken in sectors of economies like power generation and manufacturing.
The talks organized by the Bush administration were criticized by some small developing countries, European officials and environmental groups as an effort to circumvent global climate negotiations led by the United Nations, although President George W. Bush said at the time that the meetings were intended to support the global talks.
The United States refused to ratify an earlier international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, objecting that developing countries like China and India were not bound by its restrictions on emissions of heat-trapping gases.
Negotiations for a new global treaty are under way and will culminate in talks in Copenhagen in December.
The president of the National Wildlife Federation, Larry Schweiger, said Saturday that any such meetings were useful as ways to seek common ground among the worldâ€™s biggest emitters of heat-trapping gases.
At the time, some environmentalists credited the Bush administrationâ€™s effort for initiating direct exchanges about climate with China and India.
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