Led by U.S., five nations craft new climate-change pact

Australia, China, India, South Korea, and the U.S. have secretly negotiated a global-warming pact that could steal the spotlight from the Kyoto Protocol — or so the U.S. hopes. According to advance word from a meeting of Asia-Pacific nations in Laos, this fledgling “Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate” emphasizes the development and sharing of as-yet-unspecified new technologies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, rather than Kyoto-style emissions caps. South Korea, China, and Australia are all major coal exporters with much to gain from continued global reliance on fossil fuels, while both the U.S. (the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas polluter) and Australia have long objected to Kyoto as unfairly giving a pass to developing nations. Reactions are just starting to emerge: The chair of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the new deal “does not interfere with the Kyoto Protocol,” and lauds plans for technology exchange. Japan has also voiced support. But the leader of Australia’s Greens says the new pact would divert taxpayer money “from developing clean renewable technologies to try and make burning coal less dirty.”