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Daily Archives: April 25, 2009

World’s top polluters in final round of climate talks

 Environment ministers of the world's top polluters entered a final round of climate change talks in Syracuse yesterday with agreement expected on stemming the loss of biodiversity.
The three days of talks in Sicily, buoyed by a sea change in US environmental policy, have also found new momentum towards a landmark deal to fight global warming at the end of the year.
US delegate Lisa Jackson said Thursday she brought a "message of hope" from US President Barack Obama, who already boasts having made more progress on US energy policy in his first three months in office than the United States has seen in 30 years.
"It's a good feeling to know that the world is waiting to welcome the US to the table and is not too frustrated by the lack of leadership in the past," Jackson told reporters.
Jackson, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, was to address yesterday's talks on the environment's impact on children's health.
The 'G8-Plus' talks bring together the environment ministers from Group of Eight members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States and their counterparts from Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea.
The meeting is among several forums on the way to UN talks in Copenhagen in December aimed at sealing an international pact for curbing greenhouse gases beyond 2012.
That is when the Kyoto Treaty – rejected by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush – is set to expire and be replaced by the Copenhagen deal.
The Bush administration maintained that Kyoto would be too costly for US businesses to implement and called on developing countries to do more.
Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursik, who met Obama in Prague earlier this month, said Thursday: "We are on the way to Copenhagen.
"President Obama told me that their chief negotiator Todd Stern will go to Copenhagen with the strongest possible mandate," said Bursik, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
"This should open the doors and get us out of the deadlock and get China and India on board," Bursik said.
The United States and China are the world's top two carbon polluters, but US per capita emissions are four to five times those of China and about double those of Europe.
Overall, the G8 countries are responsible for more than 40 percent of the world's carbon gas emissions.
The delegates to the Syracuse talks were set Friday to sign up to new commitments to stopping biodiversity loss even with resources hit hard by the global financial crisis.
The "Syracuse Charter" will spell out ways to reinforce and extend goals for 2010 that were set in 2002.
Climate change is a growing threat to biodiversity at a time when a quarter of all animal and plant species may be at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Delegates will pledge in the Syracuse Charter "to ensure that the current deep economic crisis does not translate into a reduction in resources for the protection of biodiversity," according to a draft obtained by AFP.
Noting that the global financial crisis is spurring major infrastructure projects to create employment, a set of guidelines for delegates to the talks warned that such investments "are the main cause of negative effects on the natural environment."
The cost of bailing out financial institutions during the economic meltdown, while huge, pales in comparison to the lost value caused every year by ecological damage to the environment, experts say.

Woman contracts bird flu in Egypt

A 34-year-old Egyptian woman has contracted bird flu, the health ministry announced, after another woman and a six-year-old boy died earlier this week from the H5N1 strain of the disease.
Wafaa Abdel Hamid Abdel Jawwad from Tanta north of Cairo was admitted to hospital on Tuesday with high fever, ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency late Thursday.
The woman who had been in close contact with infected poultry was treated with antiviral drug Tamiflu and is in stable condition, he said.
The case is the 68th recorded case since the outbreak of the disease in Egypt in 2006.
MENA reported on Wednesday that a 25-year-old Cairo woman died from bird flu, the second victim felled by the disease this year after the death of six-year-old boy announced by Shahin the previous day.
Egypt has reported 25 bird flu related deaths since 2006.
Most of the victims in Egypt have been young girls or women, who are generally in charge of looking after poultry in rural areas.
Egypt has seen an increase in bird flu cases over the past two months. The World Health Organisation called in March for an investigation into why many of the victims have been young children.
The organisation estimates that the H5N1 strain of the virus has killed around 250 people since 2003, mainly in Southeast Asia.