Saturday, April 4, 2009

United States to Host Climate Change Forum in April

The United States has invited 16 major economies to a forum in April to discuss climate change and clean energy ventures, the White House said.

The April 27-28 meeting in Washington is designed to culminate in a leaders' meeting on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in July in La Maddalena, Italy. Ultimately, it aims to help negotiators reach an accord later in the year.

"The Major Economies Forum will facilitate a candid dialogue among key developed and developing countries, help generate the political leadership necessary to achieve a successful outcome at the U.N. climate change negotiations that will convene this December in Copenhagen, and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement issued March 27.

President Obama said he wants the United States to assume a leadership role in global warming talks, and this forum is part of that process. He has said he wants the United States to reduce emissions by approximately 15 percent to 1990 levels by 2020.

The major economies invited are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Denmark has been asked to participate because it holds the presidency of the December Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention meets December 7-18 in Copenhagen.

The agenda of the April meeting, to be hosted by the U.S. State Department, will include technology, financing and emissions trading, the White House said.

A new round of U.N. climate change talks to close gaps in a draft international accord began March 29 in Bonn, Germany.

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said March 29 at the Bonn conference, "We want to make up for lost time, and we are seized with the urgency of the task before us." Stern was the senior White House negotiator at the 1997 Kyoto Protocol talks.

Stern said in an interview with the Associated Press March 28 from Bonn that he was making "the first statement on behalf of the United States and [saying] we're back, we're serious, we're here, we're committed and we're going to try to get this thing done."

The two-week Bonn conference with 175 countries participating is the latest set of talks to seek a climate change agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on emissions targets for advanced economies, which expires in 2012.