By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes ago
Pacific Rim nations reached tentative agreement on the need "to slow, stop and then reverse" climate change, setting nonbinding goals to improve energy use, according to a draft statement Saturday.
The draft statement that leaders at the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will consider Saturday struck a compromise between rich and developing nations. It set a target to reduce energy intensity 25 percent by 2030 — a demand by Australia, backed by the United States.
It also affirmed that climate change negotiations should take place under United Nations' auspices, a demand of China and other developing nations.
If President Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao and the 19 other leaders accepted the draft statement, it would mark a victory for Australia and the U.S., which have sought to persuade China and other developing nations to commit to firmer goals for combatting global warming.
"Everybody cannot get everything, but everybody did not lose too much," said Salman Al-Farisi, an Indonesian official involved in the talks that drafted the agreement.
With the leaders meeting far behind a security cordon at the Sydney Opera House, activist groups hoped 20,000 people would turn out Saturday for a march against Bush, the Iraq war and corporate interests. About 1,000 protesters scuffled with police Friday near a summit hotel.
Leaders will try to approve the climate change declaration Saturday before Bush leaves early.
APEC includes four of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming — the U.S., China, Russia and Japan — so an agreement could potentially affect the wider international debate on addressing climate change.
Officials said earlier in the week that it was almost certain some kind of agreement would be worked out, but it wasn't clear if the draft would be acceptable to all the leaders.
The draft statement included two goals that Australia wanted APEC to agree on. It called for the reduction of "energy intensity" — the amount of energy needed to produce economic growth — and increasing forest cover in the region by at least 50 million acres by 2020. Forests help absorb the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Both goals are nonbinding in keeping with APEC's voluntary, consensus-based approach.
"We support a flexible arrangement that recognizes diverse approaches," the draft said.
In a concession to developing countries, the statement recognizes "common but differentiated responsibilities" in combating climate change. The phrase means richer nations will have to bear more of the financial costs and other burdens in cutting carbon emissions.
The draft calls for laying the groundwork for a new climate change agreement to replace the U.N.-backed Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. A series of meetings on a Kyoto successor will take place in coming months, including U.N. meeting in Bali in December.
Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard hoped an APEC agreement would bring a new international consensus on global warming. The U.S. and Australia refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in part because it exempted developing nations from stringent emissions targets imposed on industrialized countries.
Aside from climate change, the APEC leaders were expected to issue a statement urging a renewed push in stalled global trade talks.
On the sidelines of the summit, Bush debated Russian President Vladimir Putin on missile defense and held a testy exchange with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on forging a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.
Bush, Howard and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned a breakfast meeting Saturday on security issues, drawing criticism from China, which fears encirclement.
Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk and Tom Raum contributed to this report.