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US resists 2020 emission cut goals
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The United States has urged a tough 2020 target for rich nations to axe greenhouse gas emissions to be dropped from a draft text at climate change talks in Bali, delegates said yesterday.


The December 3-14 meeting is seeking to launch two years of talks on a new pact to slow global warming but is split about whether to include guidelines such as a cut in emissions by rich nations of 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.


"The numbers are still in the text. There has been a lot of pressure to take them out," one delegate with intimate knowledge of the draft negotiations said. He corrected an earlier statement that the numbers had been removed.


Other delegates also said the draft, put together by delegates from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa, still included the numbers despite pressure to take them out by countries including the United States, Canada and Japan.


Washington said goals for 2020 should be negotiated over the next two years rather than fixed in advance as part of a fight against rising temperatures that could bring more floods, droughts, melt Himalayan glaciers and raise sea levels.


"It's prejudging what the outcome should be," chief US negotiator Harlan Watson said of 2020 targets. "We don't want to start out with numbers."


Watson said that the 25-40 percent range was based on "many uncertainties" and on a small number of studies examined by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


"This is unacceptable," Hans Verolme of the WWF environmental group said of efforts to cut out goals. "It's trying to slash out the science," he said.


The Bali talks are trying to agree the principles for a successor to the UN's Kyoto Protocol, which binds 36 industrial nations to cut emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by five percent below 1990 by 2008-12.


"Our opinion about Kyoto has not changed," Watson said. President George W. Bush opposes Kyoto, saying it would damage the US economy and wrongly excludes 2008-12 goals for developing nations, such as China, India and Brazil.


(China Daily/Agencies December 11, 2007)

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