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U.S. to host summit on climate change

- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2007

The White House yesterday announced that the United States will host a 16-nation climate-change summit, as President Bush continued his drive to shape the debate.

Mr. Bush, who announced his idea for the summit in June, will make a speech at the event in September, which will be hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The conference will "seek agreement on the process by which the major economies would, by the end of 2008, agree upon a post-2012 framework," the president said, referring to the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.

The United States wants to avoid being forced into an agreement such as Kyoto, which has mandatory caps for carbon emissions and which many analysts consider bad for the economy.

"We expect to place special emphasis on how major economies can, in close cooperation with the private sector, accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies, a critical component of an effective global approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Mr. Bush wrote in a letter to leaders of all 16 countries, and the leaders of the European Union.

The Bush administration, which has been skeptical of global-warming arguments in the past, now says the problem is indisputable but that there is still uncertainty about how much humans contribute to the problem.

Its long-term plan is to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate global warming by relying on new technology instead of regulation.

The United States also wants any global agreement on greenhouse gases to include China and India, developing countries whose carbon emissions are skyrocketing.

One specialist said China and India likely would attend the summit in Washington, but would not commit to taking any drastic action.

"I don't think they're going to take any actions that are going to harm growth. They've said that explicitly," said Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Bush's proposed solutions — more investment in new technologies and efficient energy sources and wide latitude to allow countries to set their own binding measures — differ widely from the conventional European view.

European leaders, however, received Mr. Bush's proposal warmly in June.

Invitations to the meeting have been sent to Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and South Korea.