Friday, July 8, 2005

GLENEAGLES, Scotland — French President Jacques Chirac yesterday said he had won key U.S. concessions on global-warming policy, despite a Group of Eight accord that effectively killed the 1997 Kyoto treaty’s restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Mr. Chirac said the United States now sees Kyoto as “the legal framework to which we operate,” as leaders of the top industrialized nations pushed on with their summit agenda despite London’s terrorist bombings.

“We have noticed a shift in the American position,” Mr. Chirac said, adding that he thought the fact that every G-8 nation has signed Kyoto “weighed in the balance of the Americans’ thinking.” The U.S. has not ratified the pact.

The climate-change accord, to be ratified today, acknowledges that human activity contributes significantly to global warming and that a reduction in greenhouse gases is imperative to combat a dangerous climate change.

Citing what he called “a growing awareness of this issue” in the United States, Mr. Chirac said, “We will not master the problem of climate change if we don’t stand together.”

Yet the agreement all but tosses out the principles of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming — a document that President Bush declared dead in 2001 because it demands what he sees as economy-killing reductions on carbon-dioxide emissions over the next seven years.

“You know there’s been a lot of differences, dating back to 2001, over the Kyoto Protocol,” said Faryar Shirzad, the Bush administration’s lead diplomat for the summit. “I think what you’ll see is the group coming to consensus on a statement that reflects both concrete actions, as well as a statement of how to frame the issue that’s very much along the lines of what the president has talked about for a long time on this topic.”

Mr. Bush advocates abandoning arbitrary limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, saying that would wreck the U.S. economy — and embracing what he calls a “post-Kyoto” strategy that concentrates on developing cleaner energy alternatives to oil, gas and coal.

Mr. Chirac said scientists are “unanimous” in their conclusion that the Earth is warming and it is “principally man-made.” But the Bush administration doesn’t go that far, acknowledging that human activity is only a “contributing” factor.

The final version of the document will more closely reflect Mr. Bush’s view.

“While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to begin to slow down, and, in so far as the science justifies it, arrest and reverse the increase in greenhouse gases,” the communique states.

Environmental activists gathered here consider the agreement a farce.

“President Bush is isolated from the 12 other countries who have all emphasized the need for tough targets to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions,” said Greenpeace Director Stephen Tindale.

The G-8 nations — the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia — will focus their attention today to fighting poverty and disease in Africa.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to increase aid to Africa to $50 billion, and each nation will be pressuring the U.S. to contribute more.

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