Kyoto Opponents Hold Climate Talks

Politicians from the world's most polluting countries have teamed up with representatives of big business at a conference in Sydney to look at new technology-led ways of combating global warming.

Kyoto Opponents Hold Climate Talks

Officials from the United States, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia are meeting with executives from major mining and energy companies including Exxon Mobil, Rio Tinto and Peabody Energy following the launch of a six-nation climate pact.

The US and Australia are the only rich nations to reject the UN's Kyoto Protocol meant to limit global warming, but are seeking to promote technology like "clean coal" or ways to bury heat-trapping gases.

The gathering has attracted criticism. A group of around 80 protesters demonstrated outside the hotel in Sydney where the two-day conference was taking place. A load of coal was dumped on an effigy of the host and the prime minister of Australia, John Howard.

Condoleeza Rice was due to attend but had to withdraw following Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's illness.

Nuclear option

While the Kyoto protocol commits developed countries to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases produced from burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal, the new partnership – dubbed AP6 - has ruled out setting any enforceable targets.

Before the conference, the American Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said: "The world community must seriously consider using nuclear power if it is to make any serious inroads into greenhouse gas emissions".

World demand for electricity was set to increase by 50% over the next 20 years and there were obvious problems in using only fossil fuels to meet the need, he said.

Some supporters of Kyoto reckon George Bush, via the Asia Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, is trusting too much in, as yet undiscovered, clean technology breakthroughs that might never come or even be sufficient if they do.

Private Firms 'Can Help Climate'

The private sector will tackle global warming better than setting countries Kyoto-style targets, the US has said. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman was speaking at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

Six of the world's most polluting nations are attending the Sydney talks, which aim to tackle climate change by voluntary agreements. Critics say the talks are just a way to avoid committing to definite targets.

A small group of protesters demonstrated peacefully outside the hotel where the two-day conference is taking place. They buried a large replica of Australian Prime Minister John Howard's head in coal, to symbolise what they said was his commitment to industry at the expense of climate change. Environmentalists are angry that neither the US nor Australia have signed the Kyoto protocol.

Corporate responsibility

The new Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate aims to tackle global warming through promoting non-polluting technologies, setting no targets for reducing emissions.

The partnership brings together senior ministers from the US, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea and India, along with executives from energy and resources firms. Mr Bodman opened the meeting by saying that private companies produced greenhouse gases and private companies would clean them up.

Asked why companies would adopt clean technology without financial incentives, Mr Bodman said people who run energy firms have children and grandchildren too, and would like things dealt with effectively.

But the BBC News website's Richard Black, who is at the meeting, says the comments will do little to allay criticism that the pact is really a business deal aimed at helping Western energy companies expand into Asia.

"The national government of Australia and the US are actually trying to get around the Kyoto Protocol," said Bob Debus, the state environment minister in Labor-controlled New South Wales. "They have called this conference today as something of a smokescreen to avoid making a commitment," he told the French news agency AFP.

Source: Al Jazeera, BBC and Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16