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Swiss renew efforts to make Kyoto a reality

Global warming will be high on the agenda at the conference

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland intends to push for the speedy implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions at a ten-day climate conference in Delhi, India.

Talks among representatives from the 185 member states of the United Nations Climate Change Convention kick off on Wednesday.

Delegates are hoping to establish a coherent political framework for tackling climate change, despite the United States' opposition to Kyoto.

A recent spate of natural disasters - from droughts in India to severe flooding across Europe - has kept the issue of climate change high up on the international political agenda.

José Romero, deputy head of the Swiss negotiating team in New Delhi, says he is hopeful of concrete results from the summit, which is scheduled to wrap up on November 1.

Dynamic process?

"The climate change negotiation process at an international level is very dynamic," Romero told swissinfo.

The Climate Change Convention was first agreed and adopted by heads of state meeting in Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the world's first Earth Summit in 1992.

In the intervening decade, says Romero, the international community has engaged in "intensive work" to curb the environmental threat of greenhouse gas emissions.

"There has been a process of raising public awareness and involving the private sector so that many companies are taking action to reduce their CO2 emissions," he says.

Swiss message

Romero says the Swiss delegation at the summit will be pressing all countries - in particular the US - to commit themselves to participating in the political framework governing global climate change.

"We would like everybody to take part [in the process] and in particular the big emitters," Romero says.

But the US administration made it clear at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last August that it had no intention of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to come into force in early 2003.

Switzerland will be pushing the international community to adopt a "naming and shaming" policy during talks in Delhi.

"This would ensure we know exactly what has been emitted by which country, since the [act of] reporting to the convention and the Kyoto Protocol is a very important part of the process."

US intransigence

Romero admits that one of the biggest obstacles to progress in the global effort to curb CO2 emissions is US intransigence to a legally-binding framework, but argues that Washington's opposition to Kyoto does not automatically mean the country as a whole is refusing to engage in the political process.

"We have taken note that the Bush administration has decided not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but the US is a big country with many resources...and I am confident that it will take action to address climate change," Romero argues.

"Of course, the political signal given by President Bush is certainly negative...but I think that through action at a local level and from the business sector, the US is de facto participating in the international effort to address climate change."

swissinfo, Ramsey Zarifeh

Key facts

Delegates want to establish a coherent political framework for tackling climate change.
The Swiss say much progress has been made in raising public awareness and persuading companies to reduce CO2 emissions.
The US - the world's biggest emitter- remains resolutely opposed to the Kyoto Protocol.
Switzerland will be pushing for a "naming and shaming" policy to identify the worst polluters.

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