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UN hails US Senate steps to cut emissions
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The United Nations praised yesterday a step by a US Senate committee to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the world's top carbon emitter even as Washington reaffirmed opposition to caps.

"That's a very encouraging sign from the United States," Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, said at 190-nation UN talks in Bali, Indonesia, of a vote by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

His comments rubbed in the isolation of President George W. Bush's administration at the December 3-14 talks. Australia's new government ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Monday, leaving the United States as the only developed nation outside the pact.

In Washington, the Senate committee voted 11-8 on Wednesday for legislation outlining a cap-and-trade system for industry, power generators and transport. The bill is headed for debate in the full Senate.

"It will not alter our position here," US chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters in Bali of the vote. Bush has opposed mandatory caps on emissions, favoring instead big investments in clean technologies.

And Watson said Washington was pushing ahead with its own track by inviting big economies to Honolulu, Hawaii, next month for climate change talks after a first Washington meeting in September. He said he believed the dates were Jan. 29 and 30.

Bush wants 17 big emitters, accounting for more than 80 percent of world greenhouse gases, to agree to new climate goals by the end of 2008 - just before Bush leaves office - and feed into a new UN pact meant to be agreed by the end of 2009.

(China Daily via Agencies December 7, 2007)

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