BALI, Indonesia (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it would seek a new global deal to fight climate change after Australia's move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol isolated it as the only developed nation outside the current U.N. pact.
"We're not here to be a roadblock," U.S. delegation leader Harlan Watson said on the opening day of a Dec. 3-14 meeting of almost 190 nations in Bali, Indonesia, seeking to agree a roadmap to work out a successor to Kyoto which runs to 2012.
"The United States intends to be flexible and work constructively on a Bali roadmap," he said, referring to plans for Bali to launch two years of negotiations on a new U.N.-led deal to fight climate change beyond 2012.
"We respect the decision that other countries have made and we would, of course, ask them to respect the decision we have made," Watson told a news conference.
Earlier, delegates gave almost a minute's applause to news that Australia's new Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was signing documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol hours after taking office.
The United States is now the only developed nation opposed to Kyoto. President George W. Bush rejected the pact in 2001, saying it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded 2012 targets for developing nations.
Watson said that Washington was willing to discuss a new long-term deal to succeed Kyoto.
"The response will have to be global," he said, adding that Washington would be flexible in considering whether targets should be voluntary, the approach favoured by Bush until now, or binding as under Kyoto.
Washington has ploughed billions of dollars into new technologies, ranging from hydrogen to "clean coal", rating the hope of breakthroughs a better solution than Kyoto's caps.
Kyoto binds 36 industrial nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Australia will be the 37th.
Watson said that Kyoto nations would face a struggle to keep their pledges of cuts. "The current regime of legally binding is not doing the job," he said.
It was not going to be easy to reach 2012 goals under Kyoto, he said. "Only a few countries have reduced emissions absolutely -- the UK, Germany and a few others ... It's going to take heroic steps to meet 2012 targets."
Watson said that U.S. emissions had risen by just 1.6 percent from 2000-05, when the economy expanded by 12 percent and the population rose by 5 percent.
That U.S. performance is better than many Kyoto nations. But U.S. emissions in 2005 were also 16 percent higher than in 1990, the benchmark year for Kyoto.