December 8, 2004 in Nation/World

U.S. defends strategy on global warming

Kevin Gray Associated Press
 

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The United States, facing international criticism for its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, argued Tuesday it spends billions of dollars seeking new technologies to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

At the last major conference on global climate change before the Kyoto accord takes effect in February, the United States showed no signs of budging from its opposition to the treaty, which requires initial cuts in “greenhouse” gases by 2012.

The United States, along with Australia, is the biggest industrialized country to reject the accord, a landmark agreement obligating 30 of the world’s developed nations to reduce their output of heat-trapping gases produced by industry, automobiles and power plants.

Many scientists believe the gases seriously threaten life on Earth by causing a gradual rise in the planet’s temperature. Global warming has been blamed for more violent storms, rising sea levels and shrinking animal habitats.

Harlan L. Watson, a U.S. climate negotiator, insisted the Bush administration was aggressively seeking ways to limit U.S. output of harmful emissions, arguing investments in cleaner energy was the best strategy.

“We match or exceed what any other country is doing to address the issue,” he said. “I would challenge any of the Kyoto parties to match us both internationally and domestically.”

Watson said the Bush administration was planning to spend more than $5 billion annually researching climate change and the development of new cleaner fuels and ways to manage and store carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.

The U.S. stance, which has rankled European allies, hung over the annual United Nations gathering. Government policy-makers and environmental groups from nearly 200 nations are looking at ways to address global warming even beyond 2012.

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