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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick