White House Still Has Concerns on Framework for New Global Warming Deal

Despite agreeing on the outline for a new global warming deal, the White House quibbled with it Saturday and said it does not sufficiently address the role of developing nations.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the product of a two-week U.N. climate conference was "a critical first step" with many "quite positive features." Those she cited included a commitment for richer nations to speed the transfer of technology and financial aid to help poor countries handle environmental changes.

The United States had opposed this request from developing countries and relented only after criticism from other delegations at the 190-nation talks on the Indonesian island of Bali. Environmentalists still complained that the commitment to provide green technology to poor countries was not strong and they lamented that the deal does not require specific actions yet against global warming, including no specific emissions targets.

Instead, the deal sets an agenda and schedule — a "road map" — for negotiators to reach, by 2009, a new international pact aimed at addressing global warming. The U.S. and some other nations said emissions reduction targets should come at the end of the process, not the beginning.

In a statement, Perino said that aspects the U.S. particularly welcomes include a recognition of the importance of technology in the solution and the role of industry agreements.

But, she said, "the United States does have serious concerns" because the U.N.-sponsored talks have "not yet fully given effect to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities."

Specifically, commitments for emissions cuts cannot be required from developed countries alone, as that would be insufficient to reduce global warming and would be unfair. "Major developing economies must likewise act," Perino said.

Also, requirements of developing countries must be set to reflect factors such as the size of a nation's economy or its emissions level, she said.

"For these negotiations to succeed, it is essential that the major developed and developing countries be prepared to negotiate commitments, consistent with their national circumstances, that will make a due contribution to the reduction of global emissions," Perino said. "A post-2012 arrangement will be effective only if it reflects such contributions."