Tokyo climate change meeting eyes post-Kyoto rules
Senior officials from advanced and developing countries met in Tokyo on Wednesday to start work on a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.The 20 countries taking part in the "informal" two-day conference, including the United States, China and India, account for about 70 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions, Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said. The conference is being chaired by Japan and Brazil.There is a growing recognition that we need a global response to climate change, and we need to further engage large developing countries like China, India and Brazil," said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat."These countries find it very important also to achieve economic growth and eradicate poverty," he told reporters in Tokyo."This means we have to find ways to put in place incentives for those countries to act on climate change."The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 developed nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. But the nations signed up to the protocol account for only about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions."One of the aims of the conference is to persuade developing countries to join in," said a Japanese Foreign Ministry official. "Because this is an informal gathering, people taking part can exchange their views more freely."The official added that the Tokyo conference, the fifth of its kind, was aimed at helping pave the way for the international community to set rules on combating climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012."The Kyoto Protocol only provides for commitments up to the year 2012, nothing beyond," de Boer said. "I think the coming year is going to be absolutely critical in terms of moving us towards the next phase of international negotiations.""I think the meetings taking place here now can make an important contribution to that process."The United States, the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases, pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded big developing nations such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil.U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday called for Americans to cut their gasoline use by 20 percent over a decade, mostly through a nearly five-fold increase in use of home-grown fuels such as ethanol by 2017.In his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Bush also called for tighter vehicle fuel efficiency standards and doubling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's capacity to 1.5 billion barrels by 2027.Welcoming Bush's statement, de Boer said:"I think it's also important to recognise that the climate on climate is changing in the U.S."(c) Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.