Papua New Guinea tells US: “If you cant lead us, get out of the way!”

02 January 2008

AS more than 180 countries agreed a deal on climate change at the UN summit in Bali, environmentalists punctured the mood of self-congratulation by pointing to the failure to agree firm targets for reducing emissions.

Although the main industrialised countries, including America, agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, they refused to agree to an European Union proposal for a target of 25%-40% cuts by 2020.

Campaigners claimed the world’s biggest carbon emitters, including America, Japan and Canada, will now be free to carry on expanding such emissions for many more years to come.

“This deal is very disappointing,” said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth. “This conference has failed to give us a clear destination.” The target backed by the EU, including the UK, was in line with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has warned that global temperatures could otherwise rise by 2C over the next century.

The two weeks of talks in Bali were intended to create the basis for a successor to the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012. America and its supporters wore down the EU with a range of blocking tactics. On Friday, the EU conceded a compromise that simply acknowledged that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective”.

Paula Dobriansky, the US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, initially said she could not accept it.

She was roundly booed and Kevin Conrad, head of Papua New Guinea’s delegation, won mass applause when he told her and her colleague James Connaughton: “We seek your leadership, but if you cannot lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get out of the way.” Such language is unusual at an international conference and reflected the anger that had built up against America.

Later Dobriansky told The Sunday Times that she had changed her mind after listening to the submissions made by Brazil and South Africa, who had accepted that developing countries should also cut their carbon emissions. The UN will now prepare for a summit in Copenhagen in 2009, where it hopes that the world will sign up to a global system emissions. for cutting CO2 Hilary Benn, the British environment secretary who pushed for cuts of 25%-40%, said the wording about “deep cuts in global emissions” made clear what must happen.


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