APEC Adopts Climate Change Statement

The Associated Press
Saturday, September 8, 2007; 2:57 AM

SYDNEY, Australia -- Pacific Rim leaders agreed Saturday at their annual summit to adopt a joint position on global warming statement that includes goals on reducing energy intensity, the host of their meeting said.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the Sydney Declaration of Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development reflected the seriousness of regional leaders' endeavor to address global warming while providing for economic growth.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Pacific Rim nations reached tentative agreement on the need "to slow, stop and then reverse" climate change, setting nonbinding goals to improve energy use, according to a draft statement Saturday.

Details of the draft emerged as President Bush and other leaders gathered at the Sydney Opera House for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit: the 21-member group must deal with the declaration before Bush departs later in the day.

The draft being considered struck a compromise between rich and developing nations. It set a target to reduce energy intensity 25 percent by 2030 _ a demand by Australia, backed by the United States.

It also affirmed that climate change negotiations should take place under U.N. auspices, a demand of China and other developing nations.

"The world needs to slow, stop and then reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions," said the draft, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

A dozen blocks away _ on the other side of a 10-foot metal fence fortified by concrete barriers _ about 3,000 protesters held a colorful, mostly peaceful march and rally over issues from the Iraq war to poverty and global warming.

One protester came dressed as a polar bear, and one wore a T-shirt with the slogan "Climate change is not cool," while others banged drums. Many were critical of Bush. There were minor scuffles with police, who said two officers were injured and five people were arrested.

If Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao and the 19 other leaders accepted the draft statement, it would mark a victory for Australia and the U.S., which have sought to persuade China and other developing nations to commit to firmer goals for combatting global warming.

"Everybody cannot get everything, but everybody did not lose too much," said Salman Al-Farisi, an Indonesian official involved in the talks that drafted the agreement.

APEC includes four of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming _ the U.S., China, Russia and Japan _ so an agreement could potentially affect the wider international debate on addressing climate change.

The draft statement included two goals that Australia wanted APEC to agree on. It called for the reduction of "energy intensity" _ the amount of energy needed to produce economic growth _ and increasing forest cover in the region by at least 50 million acres by 2020. Forests help absorb the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Both goals are nonbinding in keeping with APEC's voluntary, consensus-based approach.

"We support a flexible arrangement that recognizes diverse approaches," the draft said.

In a concession to developing countries, the statement recognizes "common but differentiated responsibilities" in combating climate change. The phrase means richer nations will have to bear more of the financial costs and other burdens in cutting carbon emissions.

The draft calls for laying the groundwork for a new climate change agreement to replace the U.N.-backed Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. A series of meetings on a Kyoto successor will take place in coming months, including U.N. meeting in Bali in December.

Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard hoped an APEC agreement would bring a new international consensus on global warming. The U.S. and Australia refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in part because it exempted developing nations from stringent emissions targets imposed on industrialized countries.

Aside from climate change, the APEC leaders were expected to issue a statement urging a renewed push in stalled global trade talks.

On the sidelines of the summit, Bush debated Russian President Vladimir Putin on missile defense and held a testy exchange with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on forging a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

Bush, Howard and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a three-way meeting Saturday on security issues. China had criticized the meeting, fearing encirclement.


Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk and Tom Raum contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press