Thursday, December 23, 2004

USA continues to obstruct Climate talks

Another round of Climate talks have ended in Buenos Aires, with the USA continuing to obstruct talks. Greenpeace expressed disappointment at the outcome of the climate talks in Buenos Aires, and anger at the USA and Saudi Arabia for their deliberate tactics of obstruction and delay. The agreement means that discussions on future greenhouse gas cuts will not progress substantially during the coming year and will not ensure that countries most at risk from climate impacts get the assistance they need from the industrialised world.

Greenpeace spokeperson, Steve Sawyer said "We hope that everyone has taken note of the bullying and blocking tactics of the USA at these negotiations. As a result we have a deal that barely keeps the process moving. This agreement ensures that there will not be the kind of progress we need on negotiations of future emissions cuts during the next twelve months, and the adaptation package is far from adequate."

According to the Greenpeace media release, the complex agreement originally contained plans for a series of informal meetings to discuss the future of the climate regime. At the insistence of the USA this was reduced to one ‘seminar’. US demands that the agenda should not contain any discussions of future cuts or be reported back at the next negotiations were finally amended to allow one informal seminar to go ahead.

Saudi Arabia worked alongside the US throughout the meeting and further blocked progress by imposing conditions on making financial assistance available for adaptation in developing countries. In return it demanded compensation for loss of oil revenues if the world moves away from fossil fuels.

"For Saudi Arabia to hold out a begging bowl whilst the least and poorest developed countries in the world struggle to cope with floods, droughts and extreme events, is obscene" said Sawyer.

"And the danger of trying to negotiate with the US is clear. They are intent on wrecking the talks and are not capable of negotiating in good faith. Their position on the science is illegitimate, their refusal to accept responsibility for impacts on the developing world is immoral and their negotiating positions are absurd."

"Only by moving ahead strongly without the US can we make real progress on climate change," he concluded.

Next year’s negotiations will see the Kyoto countries meeting as a group for the first time. The USA will have observer status only at this and future Kyoto Protocol meetings unless and until it ratifies.

At the conference, for the first time the Howard Government distanced itself from the United States' hardline attempts to stall international action to stop global warming. Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said that Australia did not agree with the US stance against future greenhouse gas targets or that economic growth and technological innovations would be the only answer to reducing emissions.

"The difference between the US and Australia is that we are prepared to engage in a new agreement (after Kyoto) as long as it is comprehensive. But a new agreement will have to include the US and the developing world," he said.

According to a report in the Age Newspaper, Labor environment spokesman Anthony Albanese welcomed the shift from the US position, but also said it was absurd attaching Australia's participation in an international treaty to US involvement.

"The US have already said they won't participate. It's a pity that the minister's keenness not to miss an international conference is not matched by his keenness to miss an international treaty." said Albanese.


* Greenpeace Australia - Climate Talks end in Disappointment
* The Age - Australia alters stance on climate change pact
* Hudson Mohawk IMC - Enviromentalists Urge World Leaders to Take Action at Global Warming Meeting in Buenos Aires