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Bush, UN choose same week for climate conferences

Talks will target global warming

WASHINGTON -- President Bush invited representatives of major industrialized and developing countries to a fall climate change summit in Washington the same week that the United Nations is holding a similar conclave in New York.

"In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it," Bush said in his invitation yesterday, asking other nations to take part in discussing a long-term strategy.

Under international pressure to take tough action against global warming, Bush in May had called for a meeting of nations to talk about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency without hampering economic growth. The White House now has set the meeting for Sept. 27-28, to be hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Presidential spokesman Scott Stanzel dismissed a question about whether the White House conference was aimed at competing with or deflecting attention from the UN meeting.

"This effort is intended to aid the UN process that is ongoing," Stanzel said.

The meeting will address "life after" the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Kyoto agreement, adopted in 1997, requires 35 industrial nations to cut their global-warming emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States is not party to the Kyoto agreement, and large developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil are exempt from its obligations. The United States has been the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that causes global warming. But the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said in a June report that China overtook the United States in 2006.

Bush wants to bring countries like China and India and other fast-growing nations to the negotiating table.

Their willingness is unclear, however.

The president, who plans to address the conference, also invited the European Union, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United Nations.

The invitation says representatives would talk about ways the major world economies would, by the end of 2008, agree on a framework that could include a long-term and global, but voluntary, goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He said they also would talk about working with the private sector to promote clean-energy technologies.

Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the meeting will be unproductive unless Bush agrees to binding emission restrictions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged all countries to reach a comprehensive agreement by 2009, which would leave time for governments to ratify the accord so it could take effect in 2013, after the Kyoto accord is slated to expire.

Ban is convening a high-level climate-change meeting on Sept. 24, a day before the General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting begins.

UN-sponsored negotiations on a new global climate change accord are expected to start at a December meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali.