EU threatens boycott of Bush-led meet

U.S. nixes carbon emissions targets at climate summit

December 14, 2007|By Alan Zarembo and Thomas H. Maugh II | Alan Zarembo and Thomas H. Maugh II,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NUSA DUA, Indonesia -- The European Union threatened yesterday to boycott President Bush's climate summit in Hawaii next month if the United States doesn't allow specific targets for carbon emission reduction to be included in a draft text being prepared at a summit here this week.

The text is a road map for negotiations to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, and it called for industrialized countries to reduce emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The U.S., however, has been adamant that the targets not be included.

The Hawaii talks, known as the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, will be meaningless if no targets are included in the Bali text, said Humberto Rosa, chief negotiator from Portugal, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

"No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting," said Sigmar Gabriel of Germany, a top EU environment official. "This is the clear position of the EU. I do not know what we should talk about if there is no target."

Bush proposed the meeting of the world's 17 biggest polluters in September when he skipped an assembly of 80 world leaders convened by the United Nations to consider global warming.

Critics have charged that the Hawaii meeting represents an effort by the U.S. to control the agenda and force the adoption of voluntary emissions standards rather than the mandatory caps that could have resulted from a U.N.-sponsored convocation.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters that the EU's insistence on targets now was "itself a blocking effort."

However, former Vice President Al Gore, addressing the delegates meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali, said the lack of firm targets in the road map should not be a deal breaker. Accusing the U.S. delegation of "obstructing progress" on the climate talks, he said efforts should proceed with the expectation that a change in administration will bring a change in position.

"Over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now," he said. "I must tell you candidly that I cannot promise that the person who is elected will have the position I expect they will have. But I can tell you I believe it is quite likely."

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino responded to Gore's speech:

"I can't understand where that comes from," she said, adding that the conference was called to establish a framework to set goals rather than to set specific targets right away.

She said the United States had objected to setting definite goals "because we're not prepared at this moment to do that."

Alan Zarembo and Thomas H. Maugh II write for the Los Angeles Times.

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