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EU, Japan push for Kyoto negotiations

Yoriko Kawaguchi
Yoriko Kawaguchi, seen here with Norwegian counterpart Kjell Larsson, says she will put pressure on the U.S.  

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Japan presses for Kyoto agreement

Kyoto meeting this week

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CANBERRA, Australia -- The EU and Japan are increasing international pressure on the United States to reconsider its stance on the 1997 Kyoto greenhouse gas treaty.

Chris Patten, the EU commissioner for external affairs on Wednesday criticized Australia's decision to follow the lead of the U.S. and seek a new process to control greenhouse gas emissions.

"I don't see how it helps simply to say, well, because America isn't going to go along with it ... the rest of us can tear it up and go back to base," he said.

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Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill said on Sunday the international community needed to start a new process for cutting global greenhouse gases following last month's decision by Washington to reject the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming.

Hill said the pact was a "good starting point" but it was better to start a new process because the Kyoto deal would sink without U.S. participation.

But Patten, who is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Trade Minister Mark Vaile on Thursday to discuss security, trade and environmental issues, said the 15-nation European bloc did not accept Australia's argument.

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"Certainly in Europe, I don't think that would be acceptable to our electorates. I think our electorates would much prefer us to say, well, we'll do what we can to ensure that at least on our part the protocol is ratified by the time of the conference on sustainable development in 2002," Patten said.

He said the global community should continue to negotiate with the United States in an effort to find an agreement to "bind them in" to emissions reductions.

Japan presses for Kyoto agreement

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On that front, Japan says it will strongly urge Washington to reconsider the Kyoto protocol.

Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi has promised to drive home to the American public the need for the U.S. to reconsider its decision to abandon the Kyoto accord when she flies to New York this week.

"I will make every effort," Kyodo news agency quoted her as telling parliament.

Kawaguchi's statement comes after the upper house of Japan's parliament passed a resolution, urging Japan's government to show international leadership in achieving the goal of implementing the accord.

"It is extremely regrettable that the U.S. Bush administration has announced its abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol," the chamber said in the resolution, adopted unanimously.

"We strongly urge the United States, which is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to continue to take part in negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol."

Kyoto meeting this week

Kawaguchi will attend a meeting of 40 nations from the EU, the developing world, and an umbrella group comprising Australia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand, on Saturday to discuss theproblem.

U.S. President George W. Bush decided last month to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, which it had signed but not ratified. The decision provoked an international outrage.

Scientists widely believe greenhouse gas emissions trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

The 1997 Kyoto pact called on industrial countries to cut carbon dioxide and other gas emissions by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Washington has said it would come up with a substitute plan for the treaty by seeking the participation of developing countries as well as industrial ones.

The EU has said it would go ahead with or without the agreement of the United States.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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