SINGAPORE- U.N. climate talks face a crisis unless the U.S. Senate passes a climate control bill and failure to do so further risks the future of vulnerable countries such as small island states, Tuvalu said on Wednesday.
Tuvalu, whose 12,000 people live on nine coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean about half-way between Hawaii and Australia, fears being wiped off the map by climate change and is demanding big carbon polluters sign up to deep emissions cuts.
Tuvalu's lead climate negotiator Ian Fry said the United States was partly to blame for what he said was the failed outcome at last month's climate talks in Copenhagen. He said the world had become hostage to a group of U.S. senators pushing for the climate bill's passage.
The Obama administration had six months at most to pass the bill, Fry told Reuters by e-mail and telephone on Wednesday, but that looked increasing unlikely after the Democrats lost a key Senate seat in Massachusetts to the Republicans.
Unless the U.S. passes its climate bill, the international community is at a stalemate, Fry said.
The United States, as the world's biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, must show it was going to take substantial steps to reduce its emissions, he said.
Once they do this, it is likely that other major emitters will follow, Fry said.
The United States, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, has come under intense pressure to bring more to the climate bargaining table.
But the Obama administration says its hands are tied until its climate bill, which sets a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and would enshrine domestic emissions trading, is passed.
COPENHAGEN DEATH SENTENCE
Fry led calls in Copenhagen for the talks to end with a legally binding climate deal in which the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters signed up to tougher emissions cuts.
He was also a leading voice for any final agreement in Copenhagen to back a limit for global average temperatures to rise a maximum 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, such as rising seas and stronger storms.
He described the Copenhagen Accord, which was only noted by nations at the talks and not formally adopted because of objections from several countries, as a failed exercise. Its non-binding goal of limiting warming to below 2 deg C was a death sentence for Tuvalu and other small island states.
We have no interest in the Copenhagen Accord, he said, describing it as an effort to window-dress a failure.
The United States reached agreement with China, India, Brazil and a small number of other nations on the wording of the accord to break deadlock at the Copenhagen talks, but the document has been criticised as too vague.
Fry said Obama's intention with the accord was to show Congress major developing countries were willing to take on emission curbs, hoping this would lead to the bill's passage. That made others pawns in a domestic U.S. wrangle, he said.
He also criticised the accord for failing to spell out the future of the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
We have already established the architecture for an international carbon market and (an emissions) target setting process for industrialised countries. It makes no sense to trash the Kyoto Protocol.
(Editing by Paul Tait)