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 user 2007-05-14 at 10:26:00 am Views: 49
  • #18151

    US seeks G8 climate text changes
    US appears to be on a different road from other G8 membersThe US is
    trying to block sections of a draft agreement on climate change
    prepared for next month’s G8 summit.

    objects to the draft’s targets to keep the global temperature rise
    below 2C this century and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.The
    draft, prepared by the German G8 Presidency, says action is
    imperative.With UN talks struggling to move beyond the current Kyoto
    Protocol targets, the G8 summit is seen as a key opportunity to regain
    political momentum.Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has made climate
    a priority for the organisation, with backing from other leaders
    including Tony Blair.

    The European Union, which includes half of
    the G8 members, has already adopted commitments to aim for a global
    temperature rise of less than 2C, and to reduce greenhouse gas
    emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020.Japanese news organisations
    recently reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was also
    planning to push fellow G8 members for tough targets.But at preparatory
    discussions between officials of the G8 countries, US negotiators have
    made clear their opposition to several key components of the draft.As
    well as objecting to mention of targets for global temperature rise and
    greenhouse gas emissions, Washington is also seeking to remove a
    section acknowledging that the UN is the “appropriate forum” for
    agreeing further action.

    Japan has recently endorsed tough action on emissions
    Bush’s administration has repeatedly pushed voluntary agreements as an
    alternative. The US is a key player in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on
    Clean Development and Climate, a six-nation pact which promises
    greenhouse gas mitigation without targets.US officials are also
    questioning the draft’s call for the establishment of a global carbon
    market. Many observers believe that such a market can only be effective
    if there are binding caps on emissions.”I think the real objective (of
    the US negotiators) is not just to keep the lid on and have nothing
    happen while Bush is in office, but they are trying to lay landmines
    under a post-Kyoto agreement after they leave office,” commented Philip
    Clapp, president of the Washington-based National Environmental Trust,
    who has seen the US’s proposed amendments.”It lies in the hands of
    Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Merkel, whether it’s all sweetness
    and light or whether they are prepared to stand up and say ‘I’m sorry,
    but the rest of the world is moving in a different direction from
    you’,” he said.Preparations for the 2005 G8 summit in the Scottish
    resort of Gleneagles also began with a climate change draft which grew
    weaker as discussions continued.Leaders decided then to agree a weak
    document rather than leave with no agreement at all.

    Birds ‘starve’ at S Korea wetland
    of thousands of migratory birds are facing starvation in South Korea,
    the UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says.The
    group says a land reclamation project has destroyed key wetlands used
    by the birds on their way from Asia to their breeding grounds in the

    Without the food at the Saemangeum wetlands, on the east
    coast, many of the birds will not survive the journey.Two endangered
    species of wading bird face extinction because of the changes.There are
    believed to be fewer than 1,000 mature spoonbilled sandpipers and
    Nordmann’s greenshanks left in the wild.The RSPB and other wildlife and
    conservation groups are highlighting the environmental problems at
    Saemangeum to mark World Migratory Birds Day.

    It was an
    important feeding ground for about 400,000 migrating birds making their
    way on a 24,000km round-trip between Asia and Alaska and Russia.But 15
    years ago, the government revealed plans for the world’s biggest land
    reclamation project in order to drain the estuary and create fertile
    paddy fields.After a succession of legal challenges from
    conservationists, the 33km sea wall was finally closed a year ago.Since
    then, according to the RSPB, the vast wetlands have been replaced by
    parched earth, shellfish beds and plants have been destroyed, and
    thousands of birds are starving as a result.What we’ve lost here is one
    of the jewels in the crown of wetland habitats,” Sarah Dawkins, who is
    monitoring the impact of the sea wall on birds, told the BBC.”The
    Yellow Sea is an amazingly important stopover point for birds
    travelling up from places like New Zealand and Australia to their
    breeding grounds in the Arctic.”"And Saemangeum was one of the most
    important areas in the Yellow Sea.”Ms Dawkins said the birds relied on
    the tidal flats at Saemangeum as somewhere where they could land and
    “refuel” after a nine-day flight from New Zealand.”It’s a bit like
    losing a motorway service station and then your car running out of
    petrol,” she explained.Despite the damage, Ms Dawkins said there was
    still hope for the wetlands if the two sluice gates built into the sea
    wall were opened.”That would restore a few thousand hectares of estuary
    system within Saemangeum and that would be at least something to help
    the birds,” she said.”The birds are still here. They’re still
    coming.”"I think we really do need to still try to save some of their
    habitat.”Ms Dawkins also said it was critically important to mount a
    global effort to safeguard other estuaries around Saemangeum, one of
    which the government is planning to reclaim.