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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 17:58 GMT
Europe blamed for climate 'stalemate'
polar bear on ice
Canadian polar bear: 'Evidence' that climate is changing
By environment correspondent Alex Kirby in Nairobi

The Canadian Environment Minister, David Anderson, says Europe must compromise to save the global climate negotiations.

Mr Anderson told BBC News Online the European Union had stalemated the talks, and was holding the world to ransom.

He said there would be no agreement without an EU compromise "on fundamentals".

And Mr Anderson warned Europe against imagining it could force US President George Bush to change his mind.

Mr Anderson was speaking near Nairobi, where he had been attending a United Nations Environment Programme conference.

Persuasive science

He blamed the EU squarely for the collapse of the talks in the Dutch capital, The Hague, last November, which had been trying to agree on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

david anderson
David Anderson: Convinced
Under the protocol (the international climate change treaty) developed countries will cut their emissions of the greenhouse gases believed to be heating the atmosphere by an average of just over 5% below their 1990 levels.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the global average temperature could increase by almost six degrees Celsius by 2100, with sea levels rising by up to 80 cms.

Mr Anderson said: "I accept the IPCC's science absolutely. There's every reason for Canada to be far more concerned than most countries, because of our northerly position.

"We're seeing the evidence. I've seen polar bears in northern Canada weighing probably 100 kgs below normal, because the ice has retreated early and they haven't been able to catch the seals they feed on.

"Canada is committed to the 6% emission cuts assigned to us in Kyoto. But we insist on our right to use sinks and the clean development mechanism (CDM) to the full."

Nonsense

Sinks, in the protocol, are forests and other land with vegetation which absorbs carbon dioxide while trees and plants are growing.

The CDM allows developed countries to fund emission cuts in the Third World and count them against their own emission targets.

dominique voynet
French minister Dominique Voynet led EU Hague doubters
The Hague talks collapsed over the refusal of the EU to accept the widespread use of sinks and the CDM which Canada and its allies - the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, Norway and Russia - said were vital.

The EU believes their use would mean countries could meet their Kyoto targets without making any actual cuts in emissions at home.

No difference

Mr Anderson said: "We in Canada fully expect that most of the measures taken will be domestic. But we don't want to tie ourselves into a formula which says they must be.

"There's absolutely no difference whether you pull a tonne of carbon out of the atmosphere in Kenya, or in Canada. And it doesn't make the slightest bit of intellectual sense for the Europeans to pretend otherwise.

"I think our 6% cuts will very soon be a footnote to history. They're like the first two metres, when you've got 100 m to go. But to get past 6%, you've got to make it easy.

"And it's not the time for the Europeans to think they can force the US to change. If they believe they can put the Bush administration in a box, I believe they're dead wrong.

"Unless they compromise, not over trivia but in a genuine rethinking of fundamentals, then I don't think there'll be a climate agreement. It's stalemate, and the world's concern should not be held to ransom by Europe."

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See also:

22 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Climate change outstrips forecasts
25 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Analysis: What next?
21 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
US climate plan 'unacceptable'
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