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U.S. heartened as Japan backs Kyoto stance

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WASHINGTON — Japan's support for the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto global warming treaty apparently ensures the pact will not take effect, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Sunday.

Abraham welcomed the backing of Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for President Bush's decision to withdraw U.S. support for the treaty, instead concentrating on alternative ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bush has been widely criticized in Europe for the decision to abandon the treaty, which was signed by 168 nations in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997 but has been ratified by only one industrialized country, Romania.

The agreement sets limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.

On Saturday, after meeting with Bush at the Camp David presidential retreat, Koizumi said he backed the U.S. president's effort "to create means which will be more effective in dealing with the global warming issue."

"I am not disappointed at the president's position" to renounce the Kyoto agreement, Koizumi said. He also said he would not proceed "without the cooperation of the United States."

Keeping the support of both Japan and Russia has been seen as key to achieving ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for industrialized states to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 5 percent from 1990 levels by 2010.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" if the Japanese statement meant the Kyoto protocol was "for all intents and purposes a dead letter," Abraham said, "It would seem to be that it's not going to be approved."

"The president's approach of pursuing these issues now on a research and technology basis, instead of the completely unfair approach that Kyoto would have forced the United States to follow, is the sensible way," Abraham said. "And I'm glad to see Japan joining us in taking that position."

But the energy secretary said there was no timetable yet for the president's alternative plan.

"No, we're still working," he said pointing to Bush's recent commitment to increase research on climate change and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "We're going to build on that in the weeks ahead."

Japan and Russia are seen as key to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol to make it legally binding. It must be ratified by 55 countries representing 55 percent of the global carbon dioxide output.