A contentious U.N. climate conference entered its final day Friday with the long-term future undecided in the fight against global warming, and with a surprise visitor on tap to rally the "pro-Kyoto" forces, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton, who as president championed the Kyoto Protocol clamping controls on "greenhouse gases," was scheduled to speak at the conference Friday afternoon, in an unofficial capacity but potentially at a critical point in backroom talks involving the U.S. delegation. The U.S. envoys, representing President George W. Bush's administration, which renounced the Kyoto pact, were said to be displeased by the surprise. "They haven't protested formally, but they're annoyed," an official in the Canadian government, the conference host, said of the U.S. delegates. "They're not infuriated, but they're not thrilled."
This official spoke on condition of anonymity because as a civil servant, not a politician, he is barred from the public light during Canada's current election season. The U.S. delegation was meeting late Thursday and had no immediate public comment, said spokeswoman Susan Povenmire. Clinton, who was invited here by the City of Montreal, will speak in the main conference hall between the official morning and afternoon plenary sessions, said U.N. conference spokesman John Hay. Despite its unofficial nature, the speech was sure to attract hundreds of delegates from the more than 180 countries represented.
A city spokesman said the ex-president will be representing the William J. Clinton Foundation, which operates the Clinton Global Initiative, a program focusing on climate change as a business opportunity. Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, was instrumental in final negotiations on the 1997 treaty protocol initialed in the Japanese city of Kyoto. It mandates cutbacks in 35 industrialized nations of emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases by 2012.
A broad scientific consensus agrees that these gases accumulating in the atmosphere, byproducts of automobile engines, power plants and other fossil fuel-burning industries, contributed significantly to the past century's global temperature rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit. Continued warming is expected to disrupt the global climate, reports the AP. N.U.