‘China, India must join fight against climate change’


Brussels : Emerging economic powerhouses must join international efforts in the fight against global warming, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday.

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Barroso's comments came as the world's leading industrialized nations were finalizing preparations for a Group of Eight (G8) summit in the Baltic coastal resort of Heiligendamm, Germany, on June 6-8.

"Global warming needs a global response," Barroso said. International efforts to tackle climate change could only succeed if fast developing emerging economies were coming on board, he stressed.

China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are participating in the G8 meeting, which was planned to clinch agreement on tough new targets for combating global warming.

The European Union (EU) had given a lead in the fight against climate change, Barroso stressed. "Now the G8 needs to give a strong signal that the whole world can pick up," he said in a statement.

G8 members are Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, the US, Canada and Russia. The European Commission, the EU's executive body, is also represented at all G8 meetings.

Barroso said "a globally binding, enforceable and differentiated system with carbon trading at its core" must be agreed by 2009 to replace the current Kyoto accord on climate change which expires in 2012.

China, along with India, is exempt from mandatory emission cuts for many developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the US refused to sign.

Turning to the issue of flagging world trade talks, Barroso said that the Doha round could only be concluded if the European partners would be ready to make "substantial moves".

The Doha negotiations were put on ice last summer after the US and the EU failed to agree on farm sector liberalization. Disagreements with India and Brazil over high industrial tariffs also soured the talks.

The EU is insisting that the US must slash millions of dollars paid out in subsidies to American farmers, saying these distort world trade in agriculture goods.

Washington in turn is demanding a cut in high European farm tariffs. Both Brussels and Washington are pressing Brazil and India to open up their markets to foreign services and manufactured goods by reducing tariffs.

US President George W. Bush heads to the G8 summit poised to block binding cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, leaving him isolated among other rich-nation leaders who favour strong action on global warming.

His stance will disappoint Germany, which wants to set a definite target for slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

Faced with the tough US line, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the G8 presidency, has cautioned that G8 leaders will not be able to thrash out a policy to combat climate change after the current Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.

Washington's long-standing opposition to caps on carbon emissions is a major irritant in trans-Atlantic relations.

The 27-member EU earlier this year vowed bold action in the fight against climate change, committing itself to slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 and to increase the use of renewable energy.

Europeans consider the negotiation of a global pact on carbon caps to replace the Kyoto treaty vital for EU-US ties. Washington has not signed the accord, arguing it would harm the US economy.