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Nations bicker in Bali over "green" goods trade

world Updated: Dec 09, 2007 12:09 IST
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Rich and poor differed on Sunday over how to open up trade in green goods, with Brazil fearing a major US-EU proposal raised on the fringes of climate talks in Bali was a protectionist ruse.

Officials from 32 nations, including 12 trade ministers, are meeting for the first time on the sidelines of an annual UN climate conference, opening a new front in the global warming battle.

About 20 finance ministers will also meet on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Monday and Tuesday.

Pakistan and Brazil voiced reservations on Sunday over a move to cut tariffs on clean technologies, such as wind power and solar panels, meant to help reduce the cost of curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

They suspect the measure's real intention is to boost exports from rich nations. Brazil, a big producer of biofuels from sugar cane, has said the proposal did not include biofuels nor biofuels technologies.

"The protectionism is like the serpent's head. The serpent will always try put its head up," Brazil?s Minister of External Relations, Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, said in Bali.

"What are we here for? Are we here to make three things mutually supportive, development, trade and climate change, or are we here to discuss about protectionist ways to slow down the process?"

Pakistan objected to the US-EU proposal because most developing nations don't have the money or know-how to build competitive green goods.

"This is obviously against us, because we have not the capacity to produce goods in the environmental friendly way," said Pakistan?s Ambassador to Indonesia, Ali Baz.

About 190 countries are meeting at a luxury Indonesian beach resort in Dec. 3-14 talks to try to launch negotiations on a broader climate change pact to succeed or replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. Kyoto only binds 36 industrialised countries to emissions curbs between 2008-2012.

World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said developing countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, were leaders in some clean technologies and would benefit from free trade in environmental goods.

Carbon taxes

He also said trade rules could be tweaked to help curb the output of greenhouse gases, for example taking into account carbon taxes and subsidies, or minimum environmental standards.

But that would have to be under the framework of an international climate change pact, he said.

"The relationship between international trade and indeed the WTO and climate change would be best defined by a consensual, international agreement on climate change that successfully embraces all major polluters," Lamy said.

The Bali climate talks aim to find ways to include outsiders such as top carbon emitters the United States and China in the fight against rising greenhouse emissions scientists say will lead to more droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising seas.

Developing nations say rich countries need to do more to cut their own emissions, blaming Europe, the United States, Japan and other industrialised nations for much of the man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to date.

On Saturday, a draft proposal at the U.N.-led talks said all nations must do more to fight climate change, and rich countries must make deep cuts in emissions to avoid the worst impacts.

The four-page draft, written by delegates from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa as an unofficial guide for delegates, said developing nations should at least brake rising emissions as part of a new pact.

In Europe, several thousand protesters demanding urgent action on global warming held street marches on Saturday.

German authorities turned off the lights for five minutes at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) at tourist sites including Berlin's Brandenburg Gate as part of a government-backed campaign to raise awareness of environmental issues.

In London, posters carried a picture of US President George W Bush and the words "Wanted for crimes against the planet".