Bush spurred action on climate change in India, China: US

April 19th, 2008 - 12:44 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 19 (IANS) The US has suggested that President George W. Bush’s initiative on climate change has acted as a catalyst for major developing countries, including India and China, to create plans for dealing with the issue. “There is now cabinet-level action underway in South Africa, Mexico, South Korea, China, and India,” said Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said Friday.

“All of this activity is unprecedented, actually, given past history on this issue. And that’s something we welcome,” he said in a telephonic briefing from Paris where ministers from 16 top greenhouse gas emitters are holding the third “Major Economies Meeting”.

“We have learned, and I think this major economies process has been a catalyst for major developing countries to get quite aggressive about creating plans,” Connaughton said of the initiative launched by Bush last September.

The objective of the new initiative among major economies is to come up with a common approach that will contribute to the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on global climate once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Connaughton’s comments released by the White House followed Bush’s own declaration on the eve of the meeting that a new international regime on climate change is not going to work without fast growing countries like India and China at the table.

His address Wednesday seeking a post-Kyoto regime that encompasses every major economy “and gives none a free ride,” Bush said “was in clear recognition that unless countries like China and India are at the table, any agreement is not going to work.”

Connaughton also believed that the per capita approach suggested by the developing countries could only be a negotiating position. “And so we’re still struggling between what’s actually going on, and then countries positioning for their UN negotiations,” he said.

“And I think that is one of the challenges of the major economies process- can the leaders feel comfortable enough saying what they’re actually going to be doing.”

Asked if Bush’s plan to reduce US emissions by 2025 would have the impact of helping to avert catastrophic climate change, Connaughton said: “Actually, one of the focuses of the major economies meeting is to recognise that even if the US cut its emissions to zero tomorrow, it would have no meaningful effect on the current temperature trajectory in the absence of meaningful action by all the major economies who are responsible for most of the world’s emissions.”

“And so what we all need to do is take realistic steps, consistent with our national circumstances, to address our emissions in the near-term, in the mid-term and then over the long-term,” he said.

“Bush’s new economy-wide mid-term goal will prevent billions of tons of greenhouse gases from going to the atmosphere between now and 2025, and it will put us solidly on the path to significant emission reductions after that.

“So make no bones about it, this will have significant benefits in reducing greenhouse gases, significant benefits as we transition our economy to the use of cleaner energy systems,” Connaughton said.

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