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An attempt to develop an alternative strategy to the Kyoto Protocol on tackling climate change by bringing Asia's biggest greenhouse gas emitters together with the industrialised world's biggest critics of the protocol appears to be running into problems.

The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, announced in July, was, according to its proponents, set up to complement the UN climate change protocol (see Asia-Pacific climate pact launched).

While the Kyoto Protocol seeks to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through international agreement on binding targets, the countries signing up to the partnership argue that the same goal can be reached purely through the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries.

But according to the BBC, a source close to the project says its first summit meeting — due to take place next month — has been postponed.

In addition to Japan and South Korea, the pact's Asian members are China and India, two countries whose rapidly growing emissions of greenhouse gases are the focus of international debate on future climate policy.

As developing countries, they are not required by the Kyoto Protocol to limit their emissions. Neither are the partnership's two remaining members, Australia and the United States, which are the only developed nations not to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

When the partnership was announced, many criticised it, saying it was vague and claiming that it had been conceived to allow the US and Australian governments to protect their energy interests.

The first meeting of the partners was due to take place in Australia, in November, just before the annual meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which takes place in Montreal, Canada.

According to reports in the Australian news media, environment minister Ian Campbell has said that the government has not yet set a date for the meeting.

Campbell said the Australians were trying to get "senior level ministers" from the six member governments together "to make a historic breakthrough on saving the climate and saving the planet".

"The particular date will be announced as soon as we've got that date," he added.

Stephanie Tunmore, climate change campaigner for Greenpeace, told SciDev.Net she felt that the decision to postpone the meeting suggested that the members of the partnership were less enthusiastic about it than the Australian government had been claiming.

"We were very sceptical about it in the first place," she said. "The more important meeting is the Montreal meeting, which is about a legally binding treaty that is already in place."

Tunmore acknowledged that transferring technologies to developing countries to help them respond to climate change was "valuable", but pointed out that that it was also part of the Kyoto Protocol.

According to Anthony Albanese, Australia's shadow environment minister, postponing the meeting would be "humiliating for the [Australian] government because it attempted to spin the pact and the meeting as a major international breakthrough for addressing climate change".

Read more about China and climate change in SciDev.Net's spotlight

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