Honolulu: Delegates from the world’s biggest greenhouse gas producing nations on Thursday worked on ways to best combat global climate change.
Phil Woolas, Britain’s environment minister, said the closed-door talks addressed whether nations should compile a series of national commitments to reduce emissions. Another option, he said at a break in the meeting, is to set a worldwide long-term goal and then divide the emissions reductions needed among different countries.
Delegates from 16 nations, plus the EU and the UN, gathered for the US-sponsored meeting also discussed what temperature they’d like the earth to be, Woolas said.
“We really are engaged in pretty intensive talks about what does each other mean, what does each other want, what are the fears, what are the suspicions,” Woolas said before the meeting had concluded.
Delegates say they would like the Hawaii talks to advise negotiators due to craft the 2009 roadmap for fighting global warming.
Woolas said the US and other countries were showing more flexibility at the Hawaii conference than at earlier climate change meetings, including the one in Washington at which many participants restated long-expressed positions.
As a result Woolas said he was confident the Hawaii talks would contribute to a two-year process launched at global climate change talks in Bali, Indonesia, in December.
“There’s a realization that we have to get an agreement; otherwise we’re all going to drown,” Woolas said.
Nations represented at the conference account for 80% of emissions which scientists say contribute to global warming. In addition to the US and Britain, they include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and South Africa.
President George W. Bush had hosted the first round of major economies talks in Washington in September. The EU had threatened to withdraw from the meetings which some environmentalists have viewed as a threat to the UN climate treaty process, but European nations agreed to participate after the talks in Bali resulted in a blueprint for fighting global warming by 2009.
The US has been seeking voluntary pledges from nations for specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. US delegate Jim Connaughton, White House environmental chief, had said on Wednesday he hoped countries could help draft targets for industries to meet in the global effort.
Daniel Price, assistant to President Bush for international economic affairs, said at a break in Thursday’s talks that the discussions “have been positive and constructive.”
Environmentalists have voiced skepticism about what the Hawaii talks would accomplish given the US opposition to mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.
The EU has proposed cutting its overall emissions by 20% from 1990 levels, or 14% from 2005.
The process launched in Bali, in addition to setting goals for industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, also will outline ways for wealthy nations to help developing countries cut their emissions and adapt to rising temperatures.