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It's that time of the year again when international circles start buzzing with talks of global warming and changing climate...

Published: Friday 31 October 2003

-- It's that time of the year again when international circles start buzzing with talks of global warming and changing climate. Although the ninth Conference of Parties (CoP-9) to the 1992 un Framework Convention on Climate Change is round the corner, the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol remains as uncertain as ever. The protocol's future was put at stake when the us rejected it unilaterally in 2001. Since then, the biggest polluter has intensified efforts to create a parallel regime through joint deals and workshops with other countries. For instance, the us recently advertised (in International Herald Tribune, September 13, 2003) a joint workshop with Italy -- the host of CoP-9 and eu presidency-incumbant, on climate change research and technology.

Focused only on long-term research, the parallel effort has nothing new to offer. Take a look at some areas on which us plans to cooperate with various countries -- research on climate change science, global and regional climate change modelling, agriculture and land management, development of low carbon emission and hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Research on these issues has long been a part of us climate change policy. But the urgent issue of actual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is still nowhere on its agenda.

The us has been busy engaging both industrialised and developing countries like Italy, Japan, China, India, Mexico, Canada and South Africa at a one-to-one level. Recently, Harlan Watson, the senior climate change negotiator from the us, was in Southeast Asia to "discuss us climate change policy" with Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. Top officials of the country continue to tour the length and breadth of different continents signing joint declarations with different governments. In the end, the us succeeds in mocking the combined effort of around 180 nations and continues to avoid mitigating emissions. In this context, will the Italy ministerial meeting achieve anything substantial?

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