JAPAN, Canada seen pushing for concessions at global warming talks, Europe skeptical

Tuesday, July 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Japan and Canada are pressing demands for more leeway in meeting anti-pollution targets under a global warming pact, putting them at odds with European countries in the latest talks, diplomats said Tuesday.

The complications emerged on the second day of discussions among officials from some 180 nations trying to salvage the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which would limit emissions of ``greenhouse gases'' by rich countries.

Canada, Japan and Australia were expected to present demands as early as Tuesday on getting more credit for forests and soil that absorb carbon dioxide than the 15-nation European Union wants to allow.

Since the United States abandoned the Kyoto agreement in March, Japan's participation has become crucial to getting the accord into force _ possibly at the two-week Bonn meeting that began Monday.

EU diplomats privately expressed concern with the expected proposals, but with the pact's future now dependent upon Japan's participation, the European Union may be ready to bargain.

Germany's environment minister, Juergen Trittin, said the Japanese might be won over if it were accorded credits against forests that absorb carbon dioxide for a limited period, up to 2012.

``I would find it acceptable _ within very narrow limits _ to move toward Japan on this point, but only on condition that Tokyo commits itself not to make an agreement in Bonn dependent on the United States,'' Trittin said in an interview in Tuesday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

More than 80 countries have signed the Kyoto pact, which requires industrialized countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions an average 5.2 percent from 1990 by 2012.

The accord can only enter into force if backed by 65 countries, representing 55 percent of the industrialized world's emissions. If Japan pulls out, the second target can't be reached.

``The conference in Bonn is our last chance if we really want to achieve substantial progress,'' Trittin insisted. ``If it fails, climate protection will be put back by at least 10 years.''

Adding to pressure on Japan, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso wrote Monday to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, insisting that the text of the Kyoto accord shouldn't be reopened.

Cardoso said Brazil _ home to the Amazon rainforest _ would ``persevere in negotiations with all partners, and in particular with Japan, with a view to overcome the present difficulties and reach the common goal of reversing the global trend of climate change.''