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U.S., China Reject Emission Caps at Bali Summit

BY Admin  December 10, 2007 at 4:35 PM EDT

Farmers protesting at the Bali climate meeting

The text, which would have suggested reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 for developed nations, will act as a “roadmap” for future negotiations on climate change. The draft document also recommended cutting emissions to half of year 2000 levels by 2050.

The emissions limits will likely be omitted from the final Bali document, as the 180 countries in attendance must reach a consensus, according to the AP. The Bali conference ends on Dec. 14.

That outcome was widely expected, as representatives of both the United States and China had emphasized their opposition to emissions caps in the days leading up to the conference.

“We don’t want to start out with numbers,” U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson told Reuters about the weekend negotiations. “It’s prejudging what the outcome should be.”

For its part, China said that it objects to any binding emissions limits, and blamed the West for rising global temperatures, the AP reported.

“China is in the process of industrialization and there is a need for economic growth to meet the basic needs of the people and fight against poverty,” Su Wei, China’s top government climate expert and delegate to the Bali conference, told the AP.

The Bali conference is an effort by the U.N. to urge nations on a path toward adopting a new global climate treaty that would expand the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. The U.N. has set a goal for a new treaty to be adopted at its 2009 meeting in Copenhagen, according to Reuters.

“This meeting is not about delivering a fully negotiated climate change deal, but it is to set the wheels in motion,” U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer told the AP.

The United States is the last industrialized nation yet to sign on to the Kyoto agreement, after Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ratified it last week. The U.S. has rejected Kyoto for its failure to set limits on developing nations like China and India.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Monday, former Vice President Al Gore urged the U.S. and China to move forward in their efforts to combat global warming, the AP reported.

“While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters – and most of all, my own country – that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act,” Gore said.

Gore joined the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in accepting the prize for their work in raising awareness of global warming.