Clinton is surprise speaker troubled climate meeting

A A A

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Foundation Phase Teacher required

£90 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Exciting opputunities availabl...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Learning Support Assistant - Newport

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz