US envoy says no ‘G8 solution’ to climate change

TOKYO (AFP) – The US ambassador to Japan voiced doubt Monday on whether the upcoming Group of Eight summit would take action on climate change, saying that any solution must also involve developing nations.

Host Japan has expressed hope that the July 7-9 summit of the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations — Britain, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States — will help shape negotiations on a post-Kyoto climate treaty.

But Thomas Schieffer, the US ambassador to Japan, said that any solution on curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming needed to bring on board major emitters in the developing world such as China and India.

“It’s an issue that goes beyond the G8 and you can’t have a G8 solution that will ultimately be effective,” Schieffer told a small group of reporters.

He acknowledged that Japan “obviously would like to have a statement of agreement” by the Group of Eight on climate change.

“That’s a harder thing to do than you might think because we view it as a broader issue than just dealing with the other seven governments of the G8,” Schieffer said.

The United States is the only major industrial power to shun the Kyoto Protocol, whose requirements to slash emissions expire in 2012. President George W. Bush has argued that it is unfair because it makes no demands of developing nations.

Japanese news reports earlier said the United States has opposed including any specific target for future emissions cuts in the G8 statement.

Schieffer said the United States preferred to work through the so-called “Major Emitters Meetings,” an initiative launched by President Bush that includes 16 countries that account for 80 percent of emissions.

Most countries of the Major Emitters Meetings are also expected at the July 7-9 G8 summit in the northern Japanese resort town of Toyako.

Japan has invited leaders of eight major emitters that are not in the G8, including China and India, for an “outreach” summit on climate change on the final day.

Japan said on Saturday that Chinese President Hu Jintao had confirmed his attendance at the summit.

Masaharu Kohno, Japan’s so-called “sherpa” helping arrange the Toyako summit, acknowledged a tough fight on climate change ahead of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit .

“The process is getting more and more complicated,” Kohno, a deputy foreign minister, told a news conference.

“A lot of people are sceptical about how we can achieve results at Toyako as negotiations are still going on,” he said.

Japan is the host nation of the Kyoto Protocol but has shared the US position that any post-Kyoto treaty needs to include developing countries.

Last year’s G8 summit in Germany called for rich nations to “seriously consider” reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050.

G8 environment ministers, meeting last month in Japan ahead of July’s summit, called for “strong political will” to go beyond last year’s statement but was silent on mid-term targets until 2020.

About 190 countries agreed at a conference in December in Bali to reach a deal by the end of next year on commitments for the period just after Kyoto.

Negotiators acknowledge that the tough decision on emissions cuts is all but certain to wait until next year after Bush leaves office. Both major candidates to succeed Bush have pledged more aggressive action against global warming.

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