Climate-change ‘quantum leap’ expected from US

Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has called on the United States to assume a ”fair share of responsibility” in reducing world greenhouse-gas emissions.

In a speech delivered in Cape Town at a climate-change round-table discussion involving, among others, United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairperson Rajendra Pachauri, he welcomed a recent US commitment to join negotiations on emissions.

The US commitment was made during international talks on climate change held in Bali last month.

”The US’s commitment to join negotiations is an important step forward. But it remains a first step — an infant step. What we expect from them is a quantum leap.

”We need to build a bridge from the fragmented and inadequate status quo to a climate regime where the US also accepts internationally agreed and binding targets. It is critical that ‘comparable effort’ leads to US commitments to absolute reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions.

”Developing countries demonstrated real leadership in Bali. It is now over to the US to demonstrate leadership and take their fair share of responsibility.”

Van Schalkwyk said this will be his message when he flies to the US at the end of the month to attend a second US-hosted Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change.

”This meeting will follow two days after President [George] Bush’s State of the Union address on January 28. If the US is really committed to addressing this issue, January 28 will be a golden opportunity for President Bush to signal that turning point for real action and commitment on climate change,” he said.

Bush has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at achieving international consensus on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, saying it is unfair and too costly for developed nations. — Sapa

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