Sweden to host climate change summit

Sweden has invited environment ministers from around the world to participate in a four-day meeting on climate change starting on Monday in Riksgränsen, northern Sweden.

Environment ministers from more than 20 nations will revisit the G8’s new pledge on climate change when they meet in Sweden from Monday, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

Gabriel said he hoped the Group of Eight’s undertaking to make “substantial” cuts in global carbon emissions would give impetus to efforts to agree on a new UN framework to limit the pollution that contributes to global warming.

The Swedish environment ministry said the gathering is meant “to lay the grounds for a new global climate agreement.”

It said Germany, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, the United States, Japan, Mexico and France are among the countries invited.

Gabriel held out hope that emerging nations could be persuaded to agree to adopt binding goals in the fight against climate change following the G8 declaration Thursday at the group’s summit in Heiligendamm in northeastern Germany.

India and China, which are not in the G8, are opposed to binding emissions cuts because they fear such measures would restrict their rapid economic growth.

But Gabriel said: “I believe that this situation will clearly change after the compromise reached in Heiligendamm where the United States agreed to come on board.

“We all know that we cannot achieve our goals on climate protection unless China and India accept their obligations.”

Environmental experts say China is set to overtake the United States as the world’s top carbon polluter within several years.

The Bush administration in 2001 cited the fact that mandatory emission reduction targets were not imposed on China as one of Washington’s reasons for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the UN-backed framework to cap greenhouse gases.

But the United States agreed along with other G8 nations in Heiligendamm to “seriously consider” Europe’s aim of halving greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.

Negotiations will take place on the Indonesian island of Bali in December to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.