The Anti-Kyoto

/ by Maggie Wittlin /

World's largest polluters will work with industry to address climate concerns.

The inaugural meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate began today in Sydney, Australia. Nearly half of global greenhouse emissions are produced by the six nations participating in the summit—the United States, Japan, China, India, Australia and South Korea.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Sydney conference’s guidelines reject mandatory emission targets, in favor of voluntary compliance with emission standards to be set by each country.

“We find this to be a much more powerful way of engaging because it is tailored to the priorities that each country has set for themselves in accordance with their own national circumstances,” James Connaughton, chairman of the US Council on Environmental Quality, told the Environmental News Service.

The Asia-Pacific partnership sees the transfer of emerging technologies—such as next-generation nuclear power and “clean coal”—from industrialized nations to the developing world as the best way to reduce global emission of greenhouse gases. To this end, Australia is expected to announce a $75-million contribution to a fund to help develop clean technology in China and India.

“While Kyoto puddles on nicely, the real reductions will come from technology,” Australia’s Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The partnership also placed much of the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on industry, calling for the development of new technologies to make existing fuels like coal and oil burn cleaner.

“We will expect to challenge the private sector to do more,” US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman told a joint news conference with Macfarlane, “because this matter of greenhouse gas control is one that we all share.”

Environmental groups have criticized the Sydney talks as a diversion, intended to subvert the Kyoto Protocol.

“The talks are intended to divert attention away from solutions like renewable energy in favor of non-binding targets using technologies that don’t even exist yet,” Nature Conservation Council Director Cate Faehrmann said in a press statement.

While environmental NGOs and scientific organizations were not invited to attend the summit, representatives from global mining and energy firms including BHP Billiton and Exxon Mobil are present at the talks.

source: Reuters, Environmental News Service, Sydney Morning Herald

Originally published January 11, 2006

Tags carbon climate decision making democracy politics

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