07/28/2005, 00.00
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Asia-Pacific states and US announce deal on greenhouse gases

Five of the six signatories generate 40 per cent of world's greenhouse gases and are outside Kyoto Protocol. Environmentalists criticise pact because it is non-binding, lacking compulsory legal obligations.

Vientiane (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United States has announced at the annual Asia-Pacific Conference on Security in Vientiane (Laos) an agreement with Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea on how to manage greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The United States and Australia are the worst offenders in terms of greenhouse gases, mostly CO2 caused by burning fossil fuels—the former in absolute terms, the latter in proportion to its population.

Both have been harshly criticised by environmentalists who reproach them for not having signed the Kyoto Protocol which sets 2012 targets for emissions reduction.

And both claim that such reduction targets would hurt their respective economies.  China and India, who have also signed on, are exempt because they are still considered developing economies. South Korea has instead ratified Kyoto

What concerns environmental groups is the non-binding nature of the pact; they insist that legally mandatory reduction targets are needed.

The deal announced in Vientiane is instead flexible since it does not set any targets for its signatories, who, together, generate 40 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate warming.

US delegate Jim Connaughton said the initiative will not replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The US-led Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate aims to reduce emissions whilst not harming the economy by adopting cleaner technologies such as clean coal and storing CO2

Anonymous diplomatic sources have reported that the pact was worked out in a meeting between the interest parties in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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