Japan and Denmark set global climate goals in Davos

 
Denmark's prime minister has said the United States, China and India must agree to cut their carbon emissions in any successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Japan's leader offered them a bold strategy for doing it.

Climate change returned to the fore Saturday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, where Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda proposed a 2020 deadline for countries to boost their energy efficiency by 30 per cent, and said his country would try to spread its high-quality environmental technology around the world.

Fukuda said the US, China and India alone can cut an amount of CO2 emissions equal to the total amount Japan releases into the atmosphere each year, if only they match his country's efficiency levels for power plants.

"The most efficient use of energy is now an obligation upon humanity," Fukuda told the meeting of 2,500 business and political leaders. "The whole world must make efforts to maximize the improvement of energy efficiency."

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose country will host a key climate meeting in December 2009, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday that the goal of the meeting was clear: getting the US, China and India to participate in the follow-up treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The exemption of developing nations from the Kyoto Protocol's mandatory caps has long been a key complaint of American opponents to the UN climate treaty process. In 2001, US President George W Bush "abandoned" the treaty, which was never presented to the Senate for ratification by the Clinton administration.

"All the main emitters of greenhouse gases should participate in this climate agreement, including the United States, China and India," Fogh Rasmussen said. "That will be the real challenge. To get all main emitters on board."

China is a developing nation with an economy that is soon expected to zoom past Germany's to become the world's third-biggest, after the United States and Japan.

China also now generates a large share of the world's greenhouse gases, and some experts say it has already overtaken the United States as the world's No. 1 emitter.

Meanwhile, with fears of a global recession growing, trade ministers from about 20 countries met to see if they could advance long-stalled global commerce talks that proponents say could boost a troubled world economy and lift millions of people out of poverty worldwide.

The talks, officially on the forum's sidelines, were in tune with much of the rest of the program, which focused on reducing poverty for "the bottom billion" -- who struggle to survive on less than $1 (Dh3.65) a day.

The stalled trade talks known as the Doha round aim to cut tariffs and slash subsidies in global manufacturing and agriculture, with a particular emphasis on benefiting poorer countries.

Rich countries would also benefit through new export opportunities, according to the blueprint agreed to in 2001. The round, however, has repeatedly stalled and missed countless deadlines as a result of fierce battles between the United States, the European Union and other rich nations, and emerging powers such as Brazil, China and India.

Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard said ministers hoped to meet again in April to negotiate on new World Trade Organization compromise proposals.

Fukuda also outlined the agenda for the July summit of the Group of Eight wealthiest nations he will host in July near Lake Toya, which he said would focus on the world economy, climate change and African development.

"The risk of the global economy taking a downward turn is increasing," he said. "We do need to have a sense of urgency as we engage in coordinated actions while each country also implements necessary domestic response measures."

About 50-100 youthful demonstrators carrying balloons and signs walked past the meeting site on one of the main streets of Davos, chanting "Wipe out WEF (World Economic Forum), reclaim the world, crack the WEF."

The group remained peaceful, but they threw snowballs at the forum's guards, and some poured red paint on the white fence to symbolize what they said was blood shed by some of the participants.

About 200 people turned out for a protest in the capital Bern. A similar number turned out Friday evening in Zurich for a demonstration that was broken up by police, with 45 people arrested, officials said. Demonstrators said police used water cannons and fired rubber bullets at them. (AP)
 
 
 
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