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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
UN welcomes Bush's climate plans
By Roger Harrabin
BBC Environment Analyst

Yvo de Boer
Yvo de Boer has welcomed Mr Bush's plans
The UN's head of climate change, Yvo de Boer, has welcomed US President George Bush's planned climate meeting.

Mr Bush has announced plans to bring together countries to agree long-term goals for greenhouse gas emissions.

However, he has been heavily criticised by green groups for undermining the UN's climate discussions.

But Mr de Boer said he had received assurances from the White House that the initiate was designed to assist the UN process not subvert it.

He told BBC News that James Connaughton, the White House climate chief, had personally promised him that the president's climate meeting in the autumn would feed into the UN process.

Previously, the US was refusing to take part in UN talks scheduled for December on climate change, but Mr de Boer said he expected that Mr Connaughton's assurance would mean the US would now attend that meeting.

"Any help the US can give us in preparing the ground for the meeting in Bali would be very welcome," he said.

But he added that there were three crucial elements missing from the president's climate statement:

  • helping poor nations develop more cleanly
  • increasing the global carbon trade
  • supporting the current UN treaty obligation for rich nations to lead the way on cutting emissions

"Without commitments to these objectives, the US talks will prove fruitless," he said.

Coercion

Others were more sceptical about the US initiative.

Climate negotiators from developing nations voiced their fears that the talks would exclude countries like Bangladesh, which could face ten of millions of refugees if sea levels rise as predicted.

Saleem ul Huq, a prominent Bangladeshi voice in the annual UN climate negotiations, said: "I am very suspicious.

President George W Bush

"Firstly, it's only a few countries that the US is going to invite, so it will be a coalition of the willing, or unwilling, coerced to join the US.

"And there will be no sanction behind it unlike the Kyoto Protocol and the UN framework convention, which are global treaties that have penalties for non-compliance."

Critics like Dr Huq may also have noticed that in order to differentiate his talks from the G8 plus five process initiated by Tony Blair, the invite list for the American talks will be the G8 plus seven.

The extra two names are Australia and South Korea - both prominent supporters of the US position in UN climate negotiations.




SEE ALSO
US seeks new greenhouse gas goals
31 May 07 |  Americas



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