Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; Page A16
BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 10 -- Congressional Democrats, in the person of Sen. John F. Kerry, and the White House took their disagreements over global warming policy halfway around the world as United Nations-sponsored climate change talks got into high gear Monday.
Kerry (D-Mass.), who traveled roughly 20 hours on commercial flights to get here and was making the same journey back for a series of Senate votes Tuesday, met over the weekend with representatives of more than a dozen countries, including Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia and Japan, held a news conference, and delivered a speech before a packed room of nongovernmental officials before heading back to Washington.
Kerry's comments came on the same day the Bush administration's chief climate negotiator, Harlan L. Watson, rejected a specific temperature rise or emissions reduction target. Even as many American lawmakers, business leaders and environmentalists insisted the United States is poised to change its climate policy, administration officials reiterated that they are willing only to embrace open-ended talks.
The draft text U.N. officials unveiled Monday includes language calling on industrialized countries to cut emissions between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020; Bush officials rejected that proposal, along with language calling for all developed countries to adopt national emissions goals.
"We don't think it's prudent to start out with a set of numbers," Watson said Sunday. "We're here to talk about the differences and try to resolve them. That's what negotiations are all about."
Kerry, at his news conference, described how various federal, state and local officials have taken action on greenhouse gas emissions. "We wanted to bring the message to Bali the United States is going to be at the table," he said. "The United States is going to lead."
The senator, who added that he believes the Bush administration intended to negotiate in "good faith," is the sole standard-bearer for Congress at the massive meeting of nearly 190 countries. About a dozen senators and House members had planned to attend, but most are stuck in Washington dealing with legislation.