x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

US 'must lead' on climate issue

The UN secretary general says the international community expects industrialised countries to lead by example.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, says the US must take the lead on climate change.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, says the US must take the lead on climate change.

The ongoing debate over whether to include developing nations in any potential agreement on greenhouse gas emissions loomed as a major impediment to compromise yesterday, day one of the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations. The US has long resisted agreeing to costly mandatory emissions limits as long as China, India and other fast growing economies are not subject to the same constraints.

But as Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, told reporters en route to the summit in Toyako, Japan, the US has to take a leadership role on the climate change issue. "This is what the whole international community expects of the United States," he said. "It is not the issue of who should come first and who should come later. But it would be desirable that industrialised countries should lead by example."

Mr Ban said he had spoken to Chinese leaders and was "encouraged" by their stance on the issue. "I know the Chinese and Indians, they are committed to this process," he said. US President George W Bush has repeatedly indicated that he would not agree to mandatory emissions cuts without the commitment of Chinese and Indian leaders. Last year, China became the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, which are principally generated through the combustion of fossil fuels.

A senior American climate negotiator reiterated the US position yesterday. "We believe it is important that... to achieve deep cuts in emissions requires actions by all the major economies," said James Connaughton. "It is unassailable math." China, India and other developing nations, however, have said they needed to expand their economies as quickly as possible to lift millions out of poverty, which required access to the cheapest, and often the dirtiest, sources of energy available - like coal. .

Before leaving New Delhi to join his counterparts, the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, said that from the perspective of the developing world, the debate over climate change was tied to poverty and economic development. "For us, the foremost priority is the removal of poverty, for which we need sustained economic growth," he said. Mr Singh said the issue of climate change was "interlinked" with the rapidly rising prices for energy and food, which had reversed many of the economic gains made in developing nations in recent years.

"In our view there can be no solution without taking into account the developmental imperatives and aspirations of developing economies," he said. Mr Singh's remarks on high energy prices came on a day of relatively bright news for consumers. The price of August delivery for West Texas Intermediate oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange opened at US$144.27 (Dh529.91), but fell to a low of $140.33 in morning trading.

The G8 summit finishes tomorrow. * with agencies @Email:cstanton@thenational.ae