Azara Blog: The 16 countries that matter have a meeting on climate change

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Date published: 2007/09/27

The BBC says:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said climate change is a real problem, and world leaders should forge a new global consensus on tackling it.

At a meeting of the top 16 polluting countries, Ms Rice said nations should pursue lower-carbon energy sources.

She expressed support for UN efforts to achieve international agreements on the issue at talks in Bali in December.

Critics are concerned that the meeting might be used to press for voluntary rather than binding emission cuts.

This would dilute attempts to reach a global agreement through the UN in the next two years, ahead of the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.

The US, China, India and other major polluters have opposed mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases pressed for by the UN and some European countries.

Ms Rice challenged leaders to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels by shifting toward energy sources that would reduce global warming - without harming their economies.

She said climate change could not be dealt with entirely as an environmental question but "in a way that does not starve economies of the energy that they need to grow".
Representatives from Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the US are attending.

Together they account for more than 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Should anyone really care that the UN is sidelined when the only players that matter are meeting together? It will be those 16 nations that will largely determine what carbon emissions will look like in the year 2050, not the UN. The "critics" are of course correct that voluntary agreements are largely meaningless. But Rice is also correct that the situation cannot just be considered from a (naive) environmental viewpoint, the economy is also important.

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