Friday, August 19, 2005

Plea to stop squabbles ends Greenland climate talks

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Representatives of 23 nations deeply split about how to combat global warming ended talks in Greenland on Friday with a plea from the host to stop years of squabbling and take urgent action.

"The blaming game has to stop," Denmark's Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard, said in a statement after the four-day meeting she chaired in Ilulissat, north of the Arctic Circle.

"Instead of blaming other countries for the lack of action, all governments should present credible visions on how they could make their own fair contribution to combating global climate change."

Representatives at the talks toured a fast-receding glacier. Areas of summer melt in Greenland have expanded sharply in recent years.

Many scientists say that a build-up of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels burned in cars, factories and power plants is contributing to what could become catastrophic global warming.

Representatives of nations including the United States, Japan, China, India, Mexico and the European Union were at the informal talks hoping to smooth policy splits after Washington pulled out of the United Nations' Kyoto protocol in 2001.

Exact details of the talks were kept confidential.

Denmark, which owns Greenland, called the talks to find a way out of the deadlock.

"There is a growing consensus on the need for action now," Hedegaard said. "Several ministers underlined how their countries are already experiencing severe economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change."

U.N. studies suggest worldwide temperatures may rise by 1.4-5.8 Celsius by 2100, triggering more droughts, storms and floods and driving thousands of species to extinction. Melting icecaps could raise sea levels by almost a meter by 2100.


"Ministers have come face-to-face with the visible evidence of the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge," British Environment minister Elliot Morley said after viewing the polar icecap from a helicopter.

He said the latest satellite data showed that Arctic Sea ice had shrunk to a record low for the month of June.

U.N. talks in Montreal in late November will seek ways to extend the Kyoto protocol beyond 2012 to include developing nations, and to encourage outsiders led by the United States, the world's biggest polluter, to take part.

Kyoto's initial target of cutting greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 only applies to developed nations.

President Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it was too expensive and wrongly excluded developing nations from the first round.

The United States and Australia, which is also outside Kyoto, agreed an alternative pact with China, India, South Korea and Japan last month on sharing new clean technology to combat climate change.

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