U.S. Defends Action On Global Warming Treaty
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Diplomats on Saturday agreed on the text of a treaty to curb global warning, but the pact does nothing to limit gas emissions that cause the greenhouse effect.
The approval after 10 difficult days of talks clears the way for the treaty’s signing in June at the U.N. Earth Summitin Rio de Janeiro. Representatives of 160 nations and 60 heads of state are expected to attend.
It also virtually assures that President Bush will appear, officials in Washington said Saturday. Although it has not been officially decided, Bush is likely to announce the decision to go on Tuesday, said one U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bush had held out on committing to attend as a form of leverage to get the other countries to move toward the U.S. position.
The Bush administration defended itself earlier Saturday against charges it watered down the accord, saying the treaty is a consensus incorporating many different viewpoints.
″This is not the convention the United States even two weeks ago would have wanted,″ Robert A. Reinstein, the chief U.S. negotiator, said at a news briefing. ″We made some compromises.″
Negotiators approved the text in the evening after a U.N. official proposed its adoption, said Charles Dickson, spokesman for the team of the U.N. negotiating committee.
″They broke into spontaneous applause,″ he said. ″We took that to mean ‘yes.’ ″ Delegates celebrated the end of the long and hard-fought talks by uncorking bottles of champagne.
The centerpiece of the global warming treaty is a commitment by nations to assess and report on their emissions of the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that can cause global warming.
The assessments are to be made ″with the aim of returning ... to their 1990 levels these emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.″
The treaty has been sharply criticized by environmentalists, who said it did not go far enough in limiting the gases. It has been cautiously welcomed by industry representatives, who said they were pleased that it did not require the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
″No world leader signing the climate convention in Brazil next month can claim they are saving the world from global warming,″ Greenpeace spokesperson Paul Hohnen said in a statement Saturday.
″By opposing a climate convention with commitments to cut polluting emissions, the United States has forfeited its claim to global political or environmental leadership,″ Hohnen said.
European delegates had pushed for a treaty that would have required industrialized countries to reduce their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. But they abandoned the effort under pressure from the United States, which said it would not sign such an accord.
″What people are seeing is a certain pragmatism that has been seen as foot-dragging,″ Reinstein said. ″Europe is, quite frankly, not as experienced as the United States in environmental protection.″