Brazil hosts climate change forum

Source:ap.org Author: ALAN CLENDENNING Date:03/25/14 Click:

BRASILIA, Brazil - Encouraged that all major U.S. presidential candidates vow to protect the environment, lawmakers from industrialized nations and big emerging economies met Wednesday to craft solutions to global warming and rising deforestation.

Scores of legislators and officials from China to Cameroon were considering approval of a document demanding "ambitious absolute emission reductions for developed countries" to fight climate change.

Proposals in the draft document included a global carbon market in which nations would be able to trade and sell credits, sharp increases in funding for developing countries to reduce emissions and even a worldwide ban on incandescent light bulbs.

The document did not explicitly name the United States — the only major industrial nation to reject the relatively modest cuts of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

But most nations hope Washington will agree to deep and mandatory reductions in greenhouse emissions by a 2009 U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The delegates applauded when U.S. Rep. Edward Markey said the leading Republican and Democratic candidates — Sens. John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama — are arguing among themselves about who will do most to help the environment.

No matter who wins, "the United States will have a president committed to a mandatory carbon cap-and-trade program and to reaching an international agreement in Copenhagen in December of 2009," said Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The 100 legislators at the two-day forum, organized by Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment, hope to build consensus on how to attack global warming, then take the ideas home to try to gather broader support.

They include legislators from the Group of Eight industrial nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the United States — as well as fast-growing countries like China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Mexico.

The draft document said an agreement on global warming "should support and encourage equitable contributions from developing economies" to reduce greenhouse gases, but it stopped short of the prickly issue of making those cuts mandatory for poorer nations.

Nations like China and Brazil are rapidly approaching the ranks of developed countries, but have argued they shouldn't be forced to make cuts as deep as nations that have contributed to global warming for many years.

"The challenge for us ... is to push the boundaries of the possible," said Elliot Morley, a British member of parliament and the president of the Globe organization.

The draft, which will be approved, rejected or modified on Thursday, also called for global timber licensing to stop illegal logging in tropical forests.

Morley said that negotiators must find a way "to create a value for standing forest that discourages illegal deforestation." In places like Brazil, he said, deforestation could cause wild climate swings that would hurt its important agricultural industry and spark waves of migration to large metropolitan areas.

But Cameroon's minister of forestry, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, said many remote forested areas are home to people who have cut down trees as a way of life for generations and have little hope of finding other ways to make a living.

For those communities, "deforestation is a way of life," he said. "How do you deal with these problems when that's the reality, the way of life?"

The point was also driven home in Brazil, where about 2,000 people burned tires, blocked roads and attacked federal agents who were raiding sawmills to crack down on illegal Amazon logging on Tuesday.

Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency said it would continue its enforcement despite the setback in the Amazonian town of Tailandia.

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Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja contributed to this report.

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