Australia Urges Voluntary Emission Goals

The Associated Press
Sunday, September 2, 2007; 10:26 AM

SYDNEY, Australia -- Australia's leader urged his Pacific Rim counterparts on Sunday to forge a new agreement on climate change _ one that would reject binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions in favor of voluntary goals.

Prime Minister John Howard said a new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol must appeal to all nations _ including developing countries such as China and India, who are currently not bound by the U.N.-backed pact's reduction targets.

Australia and the United States are the only two industrialized countries not to ratify Kyoto, arguing that binding emission targets could harm economic growth and leave them at a competitive disadvantage to developing countries not held to the pact's targets.

"We need a new flexible framework that includes a long-term global goal and encourages a wide range of national actions by all," Howard said at a news conference.

Howard has made climate change a special topic for discussion among leaders of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, who will hold their annual summit here on Sept. 8-9.

"What I would like to see the APEC meeting in Sydney do is develop a consensus on the post-Kyoto international framework that attracts participation by all emitters," he said.

Leaders including President Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected to sign off on a statement on climate change during their summit. But Howard said it was "very unlikely" the leaders would agree on emission targets.

Officials from the 21 economies opened the weeklong forum on Sunday, and by day's end had wrapped up their deliberations on a final communique that will likely call for progress on global trade talks and mark progress on a Pacific-wide free trade area proposal.

Trade and foreign ministers will conduct further negotiations later this week, before the leaders take up the issues at their summit, a two-day round of talks and hobnobbing at the landmark Sydney Opera House.

Police ramped up security for the meetings, erecting a 3-mile-long, 10-foot-tall security fence.

Protesters representing a grab-bag of issues from globalization to the Iraq war hope to draw thousands of people into the streets during APEC week.

Police on Sunday arrested 11 Greenpeace activists for painting anti-APEC slogans on a coal ship in Newcastle, 100 miles north of Sydney.

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