Delegates at UN climate summit enter crucial final week of negotiations


By MICHAEL CASEY, AP

BALI, Indonesia — Opposition from the U.S. and at least two major allies is likely to scuttle attempts to include emission reduction targets in a “roadmap” for future global warming talks, analysts said Monday, as a U.N. climate conference entered its crucial final week.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel laureate Al Gore and other prominent figures will arrive on the resort island of Bali in the coming days to try to provide momentum toward finalizing a Bali Roadmap, which will eventually lead to a successor accord for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The draft negotiating text at the Bali talks notes the widely accepted view that industrial nations’ emissions should be cut by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and then be dramatically slashed to half of 2000 levels by mid-century.

Just including such numbers in the draft was expected to spark renewed debate, even though few delegates or environmentalists believe they will be in the final text. The United States, Canada and Japan have made it clear they oppose Kyoto-like targets.

“This is the test to watch this week,” said Jennifer Morgan spokeswoman for Climate Action Network, which is representing all the environmental groups in Bali. “This will show you whether governments are serious or not, whether they support these types of emissions cuts.”

The 1997 Kyoto pact, which was rejected by the United States, commits three dozen industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gases by a relatively modest average of 5 percent below 1990 levels in the next five years.

Experts say a new deal will have to go farther if the world wants to head off the potentially catastrophic impacts of rising temperatures, from collapsing ice sheets to worsening droughts, flooding and diseases.

The United States said last week it would come up with its own plan to cut global-warming gases by mid-2008, and would not commit to mandatory caps in the coming days.

Many environmentalists say, with U.S. presidential elections due late next year, the best hope is that a new administration would agree to deepening cuts.

“Every single democratic candidate for president has embraced mandatory caps … and expressed their willingness to immediately be part of the Kyoto discussions and try to find a successor agreement to Kyoto,” said U.S. Sen. John Kerry, the unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, who arrived in Bali on Sunday. “There is a very significant commitment on our side to see progress in this area.”

Kerry noted too that individual American states and cities were starting to implement emission caps on their own.

China, which is increasingly turning to coal-powered electricity plants and factories to help fuel its booming economy, has insisted that the West take the lead in cutting emissions and says it will do its part.

Developing country delegates at the assembly, meanwhile, were urging wealthy nations to speed the transfer of climate-friendly technologies, which would help them reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases blamed for rising global temperatures.