World Environment News
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U.S. In Spotlight At Talks On Global Warming Fight

Date: 22-Apr-09
Country: ITALY
Author: Massimiliano Di Giorgio and Daniel Flynn

U.S. In Spotlight At Talks On Global Warming Fight Photo: Jason Reed
President Barack Obama speaks about climate change reform before signing executive orders in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 26, 2009.
Photo: Jason Reed

SYRACUSE - A new U.S. commitment to tackle global warming as outlined by President Barack Obama will be the focus of attention on Wednesday at a meeting of international environment ministers.

Obama has already pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and observers will be looking to see if U.S. delegates give new details of American plans for action.

The three-day summit brings together industrialized and developing countries on the Italian island of Sicily. It seeks to make progress in talks toward a new U.N. deal on cutting carbon emissions, due to be signed in December in Copenhagen, and to get countries to stem the loss of biodiversity.

The Copenhagen deal is due to extend beyond 2012 the Kyoto agreement, which bound 37 advanced nations to cut carbon emissions. Kyoto was hobbled by the refusal of the U.S. under former President George W. Bush to sign up.

The impact of the economic crisis on attempts to cut greenhouse gases and promote green technology will top the agenda when environment ministers gather.

The meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrial countries will also be attended by China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, South Korea, Egypt and Denmark in the hope of forging a broader consensus.

Host Italy says the summit will discuss ways to reconcile the investment required to cut carbon emissions with the trillions of dollars being spent to stabilize financial markets.

"Because of the current economic and financial crisis it is probable that governments will try not to burden industry and businesses with higher costs and more regulations," said the guidelines for delegates, obtained by Reuters.

U.N.-sponsored talks in Germany this month exposed wide differences on emissions, with poor countries saying rich nations that earned their wealth from industrialization must act first and help pay for the cost of their carbon reduction.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has put the price of a "green revolution" to halve emissions by 2050 at $45 trillion.

"The differences between North and South are the main obstacle on the road to Copenhagen, and Syracuse aims to be a turning point toward a global agreement," Italian Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo told Reuters.

Italy has played down expectations of a major breakthrough. There will be no joint statement from the talks but a Chair's Summary of proposals from the nations attending.

Delegates were due to discuss investment in green technology as a means to stimulate an economic recovery on the first day of the meeting, building on commitments made at last year's Tokyo G8 environment meeting to promote clean fuel technologies.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

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