US nears agreement to join climate talks
Updated: 2005-12-10 14:31
After two contentious weeks, the United States neared agreement with an array
of other countries late Friday to join in global talks about possible new steps
to combat climate change, the chief U.S. negotiator said.
"We're getting very close. I'm quite confident we will have a successful
outcome," Harlan Watson told The Associated Press as the U.N. climate conference
entered its final hours.
Any agreement would probably be only a small step forward, however, by a Bush
administration that for days resisted Canadian and other efforts to draw it into
multilateral talks on mandatory reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions in the
period after 2012. US President Bush three years ago renounced the Kyoto
Protocol, which mandates such cuts before 2012, saying they would damage the
Delegates were buoyed earlier in the day by an appearance by former President
Clinton, a Kyoto supporter, who told them in a speech punctuated by enthusiastic
applause that Bush's economic argument is "flat wrong."
But the ex-president urged the
negotiators to find a way to "work with" the current U.S. administration.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton listens to
Prime Minister Paul Martin respond to a question during a news conference
at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Friday Dec.
9, 2005. [AP]
Canadian officials said the U.S. delegation was displeased with the
last-minute scheduling of the Clinton speech. But U.S. delegation chief Paula
Dobriansky issued a statement saying events like Clinton's appearance "are
useful opportunities to hear a wide range of views on global climate change."
In days of haggling here, the proposal presented to the Americans had been
watered down to the point of saying that the "dialogue" over future actions
"will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments."
In a parallel development, the 157 nations that do subscribe to the Kyoto
Protocol were nearing agreement on a separate, more concrete plan to negotiate
deeper, post-2012 cuts ¡ª without U.S. participation.
The Montreal meeting was the first of the annual climate conferences since
the Kyoto Protocol took effect last February, mandating cutbacks in 35
industrialized nations of emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases by
A broad scientific consensus agrees that these gases accumulating in the
atmosphere, byproducts of automobile engines, power plants and other fossil
fuel-burning industries, contributed significantly to the past century's global
temperature rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Continued warming is melting glaciers worldwide, shrinking the Arctic ice cap
and heating up the oceans, raising sea levels, scientists say. They predict
major climate disruptions in coming decades.