Tuesday, July 17, 2007

UN head: US should be at climate meeting

Yahoo! News
UN head: US should be at climate meeting
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he will ask President Bush on Tuesday to have a top U.S. official attend a high-level U.N. meeting on climate change in September because "American participation is crucially important."

The secretary-general told a news conference Monday before he headed to Washington to meet Bush that he wants the September meeting to provide "strong political (momentum) and guidelines" for a major meeting in Bali, Indonesia in December on a new global climate pact.

Ban, who has made climate change a top priority since he became secretary-general on Jan. 1, has called the meeting on Sept. 24, the day before the annual General Assembly ministerial meeting begins. Bush traditionally addresses the opening session as the representative of the host country.

"I would like to discuss this matter with President Bush, and would expect President Bush and the American administration will be represented at the highest possible level," he said.

Ban was scheduled to meet Bush at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

Delegates to the meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali are expected to launch formal negotiations on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The Kyoto agreement, adopted in 1997, aims to limit the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. The United States is not a party to the agreement and developing countries such as China and India are exempt from its obligations.

Ban said he was "encouraged by the initiative President Bush has taken vis-a-vis ... global warming issues, and particularly during the Heiligendamm summit meeting of the G-8 last month."

At the summit in the German city, leaders of the Group of Eight — the U.S., Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia — agreed to call for substantial global emissions reductions to fight global warming and cited a goal of a 50 percent cut by 2050.

Bush followed that with a call for a summit of nations that emit the most greenhouse gases, led by the United States, to set a long-term global strategy for reducing emissions.

The White House said Bush's proposed summit also would address "life after" the Kyoto Protocol expires. Bush wants to bring India, China and other fast-growing countries to the negotiation table so they are part of the solution, not the problem, the White House said.

Ban welcomes the initiative but said he wants to ensure that the U.S. plan will reinforce the international community's efforts, led by the United Nations.

In another climate-related move, the secretary-general announced that he will visit California next week, which he noted "is at the very forefront of the global war against climate change."

During his visit to San Francisco on July 26-27, Ban said, he will meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Last year, Schwarzenegger signed legislation written by Democrats that requires California to reduce emissions by an estimated 25 percent by 2020, or 191.8 million tons.