US fears emission exemptions would send jobs to India, China

April 15th, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 15 (IANS) The White House has suggested that exempting emerging economies from restrictions on carbon emissions would not only not solve the problem of climate change but also send many US jobs to India and China. “One of our big concerns is that developing nations weren’t included in the Kyoto Protocol,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Monday reacting to a top UN official’s suggestion that China and India should not have to submit to the same restrictions as the US and other developed nations.

It would be a good thing if major economies like the US ratcheted down their emissions, she said, “but if you ratchet down too far and too fast and the technologies can’t keep up, you force businesses in America to find another place to manufacture.

“They’re likely going to go to a place that doesn’t have those emission limits or doesn’t have any sort of environmental control,” Perino said. “And those jobs that we’ve seen over the past have moved to countries like China and India.”

President George W. Bush, she recalled, had last May said that the US would lead an effort to establish a post-Kyoto discussion for nations of the world to address the global challenges of climate change.

“In this process we would work to include China and India and other developing nations who were excluded from the Kyoto process, and which we believe made it unworkable,” Perino said. “So discussions have been ongoing in the administration to follow up on these policy processes.”

The White House reaction followed a suggestion from the top UN climate negotiator, Yvo de Boer that China and India should not have to submit to the same restrictions on carbon emissions that the US and other developed nations must.

“I don’t think that’s realistic,” de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate treaty secretariat, said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Developing nations, he said, are “still at the beginning of development”, while developed countries such as the US and those in Europe have “a historical responsibility” for emitting greenhouse gases, which are thought to be a major contributor to climate change.

De Boer compared China and India to new tenants in an apartment building that has fallen into disrepair and are told upon renting a unit that they will have to pay for capital improvements.

“Developing countries say, rightly I believe, ‘You rich countries have been pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution,’” said de Boer.

“The tenants need to decide among themselves,” he said, “but meanwhile, nobody’s maintaining the building while the tenants fight.”

The next US president will have to address concerns that exempting China and India from the most demanding emissions requirements might let them surpass an already hurting US economy.

De Boer, a former Dutch housing minister who was in Washington this weekend to attend the meeting of the world’s finance ministers, said all three major presidential candidates “have a positive stance” on addressing climate change.

But the next president will face questions about the level of commitment demanded from China and India before the United States signs on to an international agreement at the end of next year.

The presidential campaigns of Republican John McCain and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were reluctant to comment on the issue, which pertains to negotiations on the next president’s agenda, the Times said.

A spokesman for McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, said his focus “as president will be bolstering the American economy while also addressing the emission of greenhouse gases.

“To do so requires a global approach, especially bringing China and India into a meaningful negotiation on the matter, so that all economies operate on a level playing field,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

A spokesman for Clinton declined to comment but pointed to the policy position on her campaign website, which talks expansively about a mandatory cap on emissions but makes scant mention of such a system’s impact on the economy or global competitiveness.

Clinton, it says, “would re-engage in negotiations, work to bring rapidly developing nations like China and India along, and convene high-level meetings every three months with the goal of getting a new deal in place by the end of 2009.”

Obama’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment, the Times said. But on his website, he endorses mandatory caps and mentions China and India only as countries he would include in a “global energy forum”.

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