Washington: President George W. Bush invited representatives of major industrialized and developing countries to a climate change summit in Washington the same week that the United Nations is holding a similar conclave in New York.
“In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it,” Bush said in his invitation letter on 3 August 2007, asking other nations to take part in discussing a long-term strategy.
Under international pressure to take tough action against global warming, Bush last May had called for a meeting of nations to talk about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency without hampering economic growth. The White House now has set the meeting for 27-28 September, to be hosted by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
Presidential spokesman Scott Stanzel dismissed a question about whether the White House conference was aimed at competing with or deflecting attention from the UN meeting on 24 September.
“This effort is intended to aid the UN process that is ongoing,” Stanzel said.
The meeting will address what happens after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto agreement, adopted in 1997, requires 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming emissions 5% below 1990 levels by 2012.
The United States is not party to the Kyoto agreement, and large developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are exempt from its obligations. The US has been the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that causes global warming. But the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said in a June report that China overtook the United States in 2006.
Former President Bill Clinton never submitted the agreement to the Senate for approval because of near total opposition and Bush condemned the accord three months after taking office in 2001.
Bush wants to bring countries like China and India and other fast-growing countries to the negotiating table.
The president, who plans to address the conference, also invited the European Union, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and the United Nations.
The invitation says representatives would talk about ways the major world economies would — by the end of 2008 — agree on a framework that could include a long-term and global, but voluntary, goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He said they also would talk about working with the private sector to promote clean energy technologies.
Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat who ran against Bush in 2004, said the meeting will be unproductive unless Bush agrees to binding emission restrictions.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all countries to reach a comprehensive agreement by 2009, which would leave time for governments to ratify the accord so it could take effect in 2013, when the Kyoto accord will have expired.
Ban is convening a high-level climate-change meeting on 24 September, a day before the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting begins.