Clinton is surprise speaker troubled climate meeting
Friday 09 December 2005
A contentious UN climate conference entered its final day in Montreal today with the long-term future undecided in the fight against global warming, and with a surprise visitor on tap to rally the 'pro-Kyoto' forces.
Bill Clinton, who as US president championed the Kyoto Protocol clamping controls on "greenhouse gases," was scheduled to speak at the conference afternoon - in an unofficial capacity but potentially at a critical point in backroom talks involving the US delegation.
The US envoys, representing a Bush administration that renounced the Kyoto pact, were said to be displeased by the 11th-hour surprise.
"They haven't protested formally, but they're annoyed," a source in the Canadian government, conference host, said of the US delegates. "They're not infuriated, but they're not thrilled."
The US delegation was meeting late yesterday and had no immediate public comment, said spokeswoman Susan Povenmire.
Clinton, who was invited by the City of Montreal, will speak in the main conference hall between the official morning and afternoon plenary sessions, said UN conference spokesman John Hay. Despite its unofficial nature, the speech was sure to attract hundreds of delegates from the more than 180 countries represented.
A city spokesman said the ex-president will be representing the William J. Clinton Foundation, which operates the Clinton Global Initiative, a programme focusing on climate change as a business opportunity.
Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, was instrumental in final negotiations on the 1997 treaty protocol initialled in the Japanese city of Kyoto. It mandates cutbacks in 35 industrialised nations of emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases by 2012.
A broad scientific consensus agrees that these gases accumulating in the atmosphere, by-products of automobile engines, power plants and other fossil fuel-burning industries, contributed significantly to the past century's global temperature rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit. Continued warming is expected to disrupt the global climate.
In the late 1990s the US Senate balked at ratifying Kyoto, and the incoming President Bush in 2001 formally renounced the accord, saying it would harm the US economy.
The Montreal meeting, attended by almost 10,000 delegates, environmentalists, business representatives and others, was the first annual UN climate conference since Kyoto took effect in February.
The protocol's language requires its member nations to begin talks now on emissions controls after 2012, when the Kyoto regime expires. Those governments appeared near agreement yesterday on a process for completing such talks by 2008.
But the Canadians and others also saw Montreal as an opportunity to draw the outsider United States into the emission-controls regime, through discussions under the broader 1992 UN climate treaty.
The Americans earlier this week rejected the idea of rejoining future negotiations to set post-2012 emissions controls. But the Canadians continued to press for agreement yesterday, presenting the US delegation with vague language by which Washington would join only in "exploring approaches" to co-operative action. The Canadians hoped the wording was sufficiently noncommittal to gain US approval.
The Bush administration says it prefers to deal with climate issues on a bilateral or regional basis, not through global negotiations, and favours voluntary approaches. As a demonstration of US efforts to combat climate change, it points to 3 billion dollars (£1.8 billion) a year in US government spending on research and development of energy-saving technologies.
Fracking shame: Full threat to British wildlife is laid bare in a new report showing up to half the country could be licensed for shale gas extraction
Powerlines disturb animal habitats by appearing as disturbing flashes of UV light invisible to the human eye
Python eats croc: when two (or more) species go to war - the 12 most amazing animal battles ever recorded
The 10 best folding bikes
10 best hiking boots
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hi-jacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...