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Merkel makes new proposal on climate change as she revisits site of Kyoto conference

Merkel makes new proposal on climate change as she revisits site of Kyoto conference

German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed making per capita emissions of greenhouse gases the basis for future climate change negotiations Friday, a suggestion aimed at persuading developing countries to join efforts to reduce global warming.
Merkel made the proposal in a speech at the conference center in Kyoto where, as Germany's environment minister, she took part in work on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that requires developed countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
"The question is, by when will we be able to include the developing countries and what measures will we use to ensure a just world," she said.
Merkel proposed measuring greenhouse gas emissions per capita rather than by total emissions per nation as a measure to mollify populous, rapidly developing countries such as China and India _ both among the world's heaviest producers of carbon dioxide and other polluting gases.
Merkel said poorer, more populous nations produce less greenhouse gas emissions per capita than developed nations, so the developing nations should be allowed to produce more gases per person while richer nations should reduce their higher levels, to meet in the middle.
Germany emits 11 tons per person per year, and the United States 20 tons, while in China the figure is 3.5 tons of greenhouse gases per capita, despite fewer environmental controls, because of the country's large population. Worldwide the figure is 4.2 tons per person, according to German government figures.
China signed the Kyoto Protocol but is exempt from emission reductions because it is considered a developing country _ a situation often cited by the U.S. for refusing to ratify the treaty, saying it gave emerging industrial powers an unfair advantage.
Merkel warned that developing countries should not be allowed to exceed the higher emissions levels of the rich nations.
Using per capita figures as a basis for talks would give poorer countries the room they need to grow their economies and lift more people out of poverty, she said.
Talks would be tough, she said, "but there is no way to shrink from the issue."
She said it was a moving experience to return to the place where the original agreement was worked out. "Kyoto is not just another place for me," she said.
Merkel, who made climate change a main theme of her country's rotating leadership role in the European Union earlier this year, won agreement from the Group of Eight countries including the United States to "seriously consider" a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. New negotiations toward a successor agreement to Kyoto are slated to begin in December in Bali, Indonesia and be completed by 2009.