U.S. hosts climate-change conference and promptly digs in its heels

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched the two-day gathering of the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas spewers in Washington, D.C., by saying global warming is real and caused by humans, but must only be addressed in ways that allow for continued economic growth.

The conference was attended by 16 countries responsible for more than 80 per cent of global carbon emissions. Officials from Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia and South Africa were attending, as well as European Union and UN climate-change officials.

Curiously, or perhaps not, Rice’s remarks echoed those of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper two days earlier, when he told delegates at UN Headquarters that Canada favors an approach that balances global-warming mitigation with economic growth. Harper’s remarks were so in-keeping with the U.S. position they could have been framed by the White House.

Harper and Bush are at odds with critics in Europe and elsewhere who say their so-called “balanced” approach will allow countries to avoid the tough choices needed to slow warming and temper its disruptive effects.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that “If we do not act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating.”

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