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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 12:35 GMT
US senators push Bush on climate
Power plant in the US
The US is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases
Almost a quarter of the US Senate has written to President George Bush urging him to join UN talks on climate change currently taking place in Canada.

Among the 24 senators to sign the open letter were Democrat Hilary Clinton and leading Republican John McCain.

It comes at a key stage of the Montreal conference, where the US delegation has been blocking proposals to start formal talks on how to tackle global warming.

The current targets within the Kyoto Protocol will expire in 2012.

The US - the world's biggest emitter of green house gases - withdrew its signature from Kyoto in 2001, saying it was flawed and costly to introduce.

Global action

The senators' open letter to the White House calls for a change of tack, describing climate change as one of the most pressing issues facing humankind.

It urges the Bush administration to fulfil what the senators say is a legal obligation to play a constructive role in talks about global action to combat climate change beyond 2012.

The greenhouse effect is the natural process by which the atmosphere traps some of the Sun's energy

"The US should, at a minimum, refrain from blocking or obstructing such discussions... since it would be inconsistent with its ongoing treaty obligations," it says.

Last week, chief US negotiator Harlan Watson said he was opposed to any negotiation about imposing Kyoto-style limits on US emissions.

In recent months the mayors of almost 200 US cities, including New York, have signed an agreement designed to protect the climate in the face of Mr Bush's withdrawal from Kyoto.

The White House has since 2002 embarked on a voluntary policy to reduce US emissions through new technology. It argues that binding limits would harm the US economy.

The Kyoto accord came into force earlier this year, seven years after it was signed in 1997. It requires industrialised nations to cut their emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other gases blamed for warming the planet.

Some 156 countries have ratified the treaty, which pledges to reduce global emissions by 5.2% by 2012.

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