US hopes for climate change accord including India, China by yearend

July 4th, 2008 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 4 (IANS) The White House says before the end of the year it hopes to get a global agreement on climate change that will include emerging economies like India and China, a point being insisted upon by US President George Bush. “We have made progress - I am not saying that we’re going to be able to come out of there with a signed deal, out of the G8,” White House spokesperson Dana Perino said when asked how optimistic Washington was about a potential deal on emission targets at next week’s Group of Eight summit in Japan.

But “we hope to get something done by the end of this year so that the major economies could feed into the UN process (Framework Convention on Climate Change), which is going to take place next year,” she told reporters Thursday.

Bush himself said Wednesday he would discuss with Indian and Chinese leaders how to make major economies part of a common strategy to deal with the issue of climate change at the July 7-9 summit.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of four other major economies - Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa - would be attending the meeting besides G8 members - the US, Britain, Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada, France and Italy.

Perino recalled that in May 2007, Bush had announced what she called “a new way forward on climate change” because for several years “we have been stuck in this situation where only 30 percent of the countries that emit were required to be a part of the Kyoto Protocol.”

A protocol to the international Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol requires 36 developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change to specified levels. The US has not ratified the treaty.

India, China and Brazil are among 137 developing countries which have ratified the protocol, but have no obligation beyond monitoring and reporting emissions.

Bush thought it would not solve the problem of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, “but instead it would hurt our economy while emissions continued to go up overseas - just unworkable, from his point of view,” Perino said.

“What he thinks is going to work is a real push on technologies for research and development, but also having everybody committed, especially the emerging economies such as India and China,” Perino said.

“So last May before the G8, Bush suggested a way that we could all work together to get the major economies of the world all at the same table and working towards the same goal,” she said, referring to the US proposed “Major Economies Process” endorsed by G8 leaders at Heiligendamm, Germany, last year.

“And that has held over the past year,” Perino said. “The emerging economies are still at the table. We’re talking now in terms of ‘our’ challenge and how ‘we’ are going to solve this.”

Asked if the Bush administration was philosophically opposed to setting up midterm and longer-term goal goals, Perino said: “Well, no, because it’s what the president proposed last May and that’s what we’ve been working towards. We think we’ve made some good progress.”

“But the key to this - and actually, I think other nations agree with this now - that we have to have the developing nations at the table - we’re all rowing in the same direction - or else we’re not going to solve the problem and we’re going to hurt people’s economies.”

The US, she said, was “absolutely not” for a “one size fits all” approach. “And that’s one of the keys - and that’s one of the reasons that this is working.”

“So each country is going to have to come up with its own plan in order to get to both a midterm and then that aspirational longer-term goal,” Perino said.

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