'U.S. helping Third World in fight against global warming'

CHENNAI Oct. 3. The United States, which has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, is actually helping developing countries achieve the ecological objectives of the protocol in a manner that is more realistic, effective and workable than the protocol provisions.

This is the message that Harlan L.Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative of the U.S. Department of State, sought to convey today, at different meetings organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry-Southern Region (CII-SR).

Emphasising the approach of the Bush administration which says that economic growth is an imperative for accelerating — and paying for — the development of new eco-friendly technologies, Dr. Watson said that the U.S. President's budget for 2003 included over $220 millions for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to help developing countries improve measurement and reduction of GHG emissions and invest in clean and renewable energy technologies. This, he said, was in addition to the $500 millions that the U.S. had pledged over the next four years for the GEF, a 16 per cent increase over the contribution to the previous replenishment.

The budget also provided funds to fulfil the President's June 11, 2001, commitment to developing countries to provide $25 millions for climate observation systems that would help scientists improve their understanding of the dynamics of climate change. The U.S. had also started a programme of extending debt relief to select countries against specific commitments towards conservation of tropical forests, besides stepping up bilateral cooperation with countries, including India, in the matter of climate science and technology. Responding to repeated queries on whether the U.S., having opted out of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the main instrument of the Kyoto Protocol, was now trying to "compete with" the CDM by stepping up ecological assistance to developing countries, Dr. Watson said the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (of which the U.S. remains a leading member) did not prevent its cooperating with projects of member-countries of the protocol. He was, however, not sure whether the CDM and the carbon trading mechanism under the Protocol were as clear-cut, fast-track and effective as many claimed, and pointed out that the "CDM rules have yet to be framed".

Robert K.Dixon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said the U.S. and India were similarly placed in respect of a substantial reliance on coal for power production and in the pattern of energy consumption. Hence, bilateral cooperation in energy efficiency under the National Climate Change Technology Initiative (NCCTI) announced by the U.S. President would be mutually beneficial. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, at its meeting in June this year, had decided on cooperation in fuel cell technologies in the context of the draft National Vision on Transition to a Hydrogen Economy by the year 2030.

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