MONTREAL: US hopes of blocking the progress of the Kyoto treaty on climate change appeared to be fading, amid signs that China and other developing countries were throwing their weight behind the agreement.
China said it saw the Kyoto process, under the aegis of the United Nations, as the main forum for progress on tackling greenhouse gas emissions. This was a blow to the US, which has been positioning its Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development as an alternative to the Kyoto treaty.
China is crucial to any agreement on climate change because it is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and under the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol has no obligation to reduce its emissions, as a developing country. Both the US and the proponents of Kyoto have been assiduously wooing China in the past few months with promises of technology transfer and financial assistance.
Su Wei, deputy director general for treaty and law in the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, told the FT: "We see the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] as the only global forum for [action on) climate change."
In discussions with several countries, China has signalled that it expects the Kyoto process to result in much greater action on emissions than the US-led Asia-Pacific partnership.
Stavros Dimas, the European environment commissioner, said China -- the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US -- had a strong interest in taking action on climate change, and on air pollution from its factories and coal-fired power plants.
However, it was clear that China would exact a high price from the European Union and other proponents of the treaty in return for its support. Mr Wei said: "As a developing country, we lack the financial resources [to install technology to lower greenhouse gas emissions]. We hoped the EU would be more positive in the provision of financial resources [for a landmark technology demonstration project]."
The US looked isolated late last week as the G77 developing countries agreed to begin talks from next year on the future of the Kyoto treaty. It was unclear whether the US would agree to such talks, which it has opposed during the last two weeks of tense negotiations in Montreal on the future of the international treaty.
Under the 1997 protocol, which did not come into force until this year, developed countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.0 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2012.
But these provisions expire after that date, and as yet there is no agreement on what should replace them. Canada has proposed that talks should begin next year, within an "open and non-binding exchange of views, information and ideas".
But such talks would "not open any negotiations leading to new commitments" -- a sop to the US.