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 user 2007-05-14 at 10:26:00 am Views: 110
  • #18287

    US seeks G8 climate text changes
    The 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.
    Washington 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
    President 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
    Tens 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 Arctic.

    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.