The US and five Asia-Pacific nations on Thursday unveiled a pact they said would reduce global warming but critics -- including Germany's environment minister -- said it was no alternative to the Kyoto Protocol.
No, America won't sign it -- they have another idea
The United States, Australia, India, China, South Korea and Japan said the "Beyond Kyoto" pact envisions the development of nuclear and solar power to reduce greenhouse gases, and was not a threat to the existing Kyoto Protocol.
"We are not detracting from Kyoto in any way at all. We are complementing it," said US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.
Zoellick said the agreement would "open up the possibilities for developing, deploying and transferring" new and more efficient technologies.
In this photo released by the environmental group Greenpeace, two Greenpeace activists hold a sign supporting the Kyoto Protocol at a demonstration in a Beijing park.China is one of the six nations to have agreed the "Beyond Kyoto" pact.
The six nations that agreed the pact after secret negotiations account for almost half of the world's population and greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, their non-binding pact does not have enforcement standards or a specific time-frame for signatories to cut emissions.
The environmental group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) dismissed the plan after US President George W. Bush announced it in Washington on Wednesday.
"A deal on climate change that doesn't limit pollution is the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired," said Jennifer Morgan, head of the WWF's climate change program.
German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin said that while such regional pacts could support international cooperation on climate change, they were "no alternative" to the binding emissions goals included in Kyoto.
"We should not only develop new technologies, but also use existing technologies, for example, to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies," Trittin said.
"Fairer, more effective"
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said details of the new pact would be discussed at a meeting of ministers from the six nations in Australia in November.
While he said the new accord was not meant to detract from the Kyoto Protocol, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said it is a better, more effective agreement.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
"The fairness and effectiveness of this proposal will be superior to the Kyoto Protocal," Howard said. "It demonstrates the very strong commitment of Australia to reducing greenhouse gas emissions according to an understanding that it's fair in Australia and not something that will destroy Australian jobs and unfairly penalize Australian industries."
One of the arguments used against the Kyoto Protocol by Australia and the US is that it does not require big developing countries to make targeted emissions cuts -- an absence that US President Bush says is unfair and illogical.
But developing countries say historical responsibility for global warming lies with nations that industrialized first, and primarily with the US, which alone accounts for a quarter of all global greenhouse gas pollution.