DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A group led by the Hawaii Sierra Club held a protest yesterday outside Kennedy Theatre across from the East-West Center, where a meeting on climate change was being held.
16 nations meet in isles over global warming
Plan to cut emissions is urged
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Delegates from the world's major economies are meeting in Honolulu to discuss climate change and a proposed international accord to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and stem the effects of global warming.
A top United Nations official says it is incumbent on the world's major producers of greenhouse gases to develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate their effect on the environment.
Environmental groups critical of the U.S. government for not taking a greater role in reducing emissions protested the conference, which convened delegates from 16 countries, the U.N. and the European Union.
The two-day conference wraps up today at the East-West Center.
'MAJOR ECONOMIES' PARTICIPATING
The 16 countries, along with the United Nations and the European Union, participating in the "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change" conference at the East-West Center:
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
To demonstrate the changes that global warming would cause, people participating in the "Hawaii Blue Line Project" drew blue lines and used blue tape yesterday to mark the streets showing where the coastline would be if the ocean were to rise by 1 meter. Joseph Adair, left, and his brother William colored the sidewalk blue at Stadium Park.
It is the responsibility of the world's largest countries and biggest polluters to come up with a comprehensive strategy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to stem the effects of global warming, a top United Nations official told delegates here from the world's major economies.
"I'm convinced it can be done, but only if all forces pull together," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework on Climate Change. "The major economies represented in this room have to take the lead amongst those forces."
De Boer spoke yesterday at the opening of a two-day conference in Honolulu aimed at bringing together 16 of the world's "major economies" to discuss climate change and further development of an international agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, seen as the most significant contributor to global warming.
The "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change" summit, which also includes delegates from the United Nations and the European Union, was convened by the White House and is an extension of talks initiated by President Bush in Washington in September.
While no formal accord is expected from the Honolulu talks, a Bush administration official says the White House is hopeful for progress on an agreement reached last month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia. That agreement, known as the "Bali road map," is to be used as a guide for negotiations over the next two years as the world's nations craft a policy to replace the landmark Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
The main goal of the Honolulu conference is "to have the leaders' declaration to advance the Bali road map," said C. Boyden Gray, White House special envoy for European Union affairs. "That is what we hope."
Gray described the Major Economies Meeting as a type of "subcommittee" to the U.N. talks, bringing together a smaller number of countries -- 16 versus almost 200.
"I believe that some of the things that happened in Bali wouldn't have happened if we hadn't had basic understanding among the largest economies," he said.
The U.N. effort has focused on nations taking actions to reduce emissions that are measurable, reportable and verifiable.
These efforts include responsible management of forests, cooperating with technology and business sectors to develop environmentally sound products, cooperation to reduce emissions or capture carbon, providing financing and technical support to developing countries, and others.
"There is no time left that the world can lose," de Boer said. "All efforts now have to focus on getting the negotiations on the climate-change deal off the ground to be ready by 2009."
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, required industrial nations to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The U.S. has faced some international criticism for not signing the Kyoto agreement and not taking a greater role in efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.
At Bali last month, members of the European Union threatened to boycott the Honolulu talks if the U.S. did not agree to a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The final agreement deleted those target numbers as a concession to the US.
Gray argued the U.S. has done its part, adding that the Energy Independence and Security Act signed by Bush last month contains strict emissions standards and goals for increasing development of renewable fuels. The White House also notes U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions declined 1.5 percent in 2006.
"We're doing our part for sure, and we're ahead of Europe now on a number of aspects of this," Gray said.
Critics remain unconvinced.
Across the street from the East-West Center, where delegates met, demonstrators assembled quietly bearing signs reading "No rainforest for biofuels" and "Consume less," among others.
Henry Curtis, executive director of the environmental group Life of the Land, said countries need to stop planning and take action now to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
"We're very, very skeptical," he said. "George Bush noted that climate change existed in 2001. If that's true, in seven years he's done remarkably little.
"We would like to see the other nations put pressure on the U.S. and for the U.S. to agree to an international solution."
In another protest organized by the Sierra Club of Hawaii, about 50 students and activists used blue chalk to draw a line and artwork on the sidewalk for seven blocks between Isenberg and McCully streets to illustrate how far the ocean would advance if the sea rises 39 inches in the next century, as some scientists have warned.