- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2002

JOHANNESBURG With world leaders pushing for action, negotiators at the Earth Summit agreed on a plan yesterday to protect the environment and fight poverty.
"Humanity has a rendezvous with destiny," French President Jacques Chirac said. "Alarms are sounding across all the continents. We cannot say that we did not know."
Though President Bush has declined to attend the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his place U.S. officials say they are firmly committed to the summit's success.
"We've reached a real breakthrough with the summit in our collective attempt to ensure that this is a successful gathering of the global family," said Assistant Secretary of State John Turner.
World leaders have yet to formally adopt the nonbinding agreement.
After more than a week of bargaining, the European Union lost its push for targets on the use of wind and solar energy the last major sticking point in the summit's action plan.
The agreed-upon text includes a commitment to "urgently" increase the use of renewable energy sources and report back on progress, diplomats said.
Developing countries had sided with the United States and Japan against including the targets.
South Africa's environment minister, Valli Moosa, said such targets were a rich country's luxury. "We will not support binding targets for renewable energies for developing countries," he said.
U.S. officials said the final wording "properly reflects" how a "diversity of clean energy resources" will contribute to sustainable development.
"The document clearly highlights the need to increase access to modern energy services and signals the valuable role renewable energy will play in the future," said Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, head of the U.S. delegation.
Compromises also were reached in three other key areas: climate change, trade and sanitation.
Despite the Bush administration's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, it accepted language that said nations backing Kyoto "strongly urge" states that had not done so to ratify it in "a timely manner."
Kyoto received another boost yesterday when Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who had been wavering on whether to ratify, confirmed he would submit the agreement to Parliament by the end of the year.
But the accord cannot go into effect unless Russia the crucial holdout signs on too. The European Union issued a "solemn appeal" to Moscow to join them in ratifying, but Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said his government was not ready to decide.
Negotiators have agreed to texts on trade that urge countries to reform subsidies that are environmentally harmful, such as those for the fishing industry that contribute to overcapacity.
They also have committed to reducing the number of people living without sanitation from 2 billion to 1 billion by 2015, diplomats said.
Negotiators agreed to emphasize the need for good governance to achieve sustainable development, but did not make it a condition for receiving aid, as advocated by the United States, diplomats said.
Mr. Turner said the text went "beyond anything the world community had done before" in stressing the need to fight corruption and promote democracy and the rule of law.
A host of civic and environmental groups condemned the compromises, calling some of them significant steps backward from previous commitments.
"Economic interests were allowed to maintain their primacy over other global priorities," said Kim Carstensen of World Wildlife Fund International.


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