Published on Thursday, December 13, 2007 by The Times Online/UK
The United States refused to sign up to emissions targets as the Bali conference on global warming limped to an acrimonious conclusion today.
Mr Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year for his work on climate change, was clear in his denunciation of President Bush’s attitude.
“I am not an official and I am not bound by diplomatic niceties. So I am going to speak an inconvenient truth: my own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali,” he said, to the applause of delegates.
“You can feel anger and frustration and direct it at the United States of America. Or you can make a second choice, you can decide to move forward and do all of the difficult work that needs to be done and save a large open blank space in our document and put a footnote by it.”
Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister of Australia, overturned his predecessor’s policy and signed up to the Kyoto Protocol within days of entering office. Mr Gore is hoping that the next occupant of the White House will implement a similarly decisive change.
“Over the next two years, the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now,” said Mr Gore
“One year and 40 days from today, there will be a new inauguration in the United States. I must tell you candidly that I cannot promise that the person who is elected will have the position I expect they will have, but I can tell you I believe it is quite likely.”
The former presidential candidate also called for the successor to the Kyoto pact, which was introduced in 1997, to be brought forward two years to 2010. The original pact remains unsigned by the United States.
Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief, said he was worried that US reticence would derail plans to set international emissions targets in the coming years.
“I’m very concerned about the pace of things,” he said. “If we don’t get wording on the future, then the whole house of cards falls to pieces.”
As the UN talks entered their final hours, the European Union threatened to boycott a US-led climate meeting next month unless Washington agrees to a deal mentioning numerical targets for deep reductions in global warming gases.
“No result in Bali means no Major Economies Meeting,” said Sigmar Gabriel, the EU’s top environment official. “This is the clear position of the EU. I do not know what we should talk about if there is no target.”
The EU proposed a draft document suggesting that industrialised nations consider cutting emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020.
The United States, Japan, Russia and several other governments refused to accept any specific targets arguing that they would limit the scope of future talks.
The European Union and others say that the figures reflect the measures scientists say are needed to rein in global warming and head off predictions of rising sea levels, worsening floods and droughts, and the extinction of plant and animal species.