The United States is notably absent from the list of countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, intended to tackle climate change.
Having sidestepped this binding agreement, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter has now agreed to a climate change partnership with Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea (see Asia-Pacific climate pact launched).
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the new Asia-Pacific Partnership was created on US terms, says Sunita Narain in this article. The United States has agreed to help India and China reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, by offering financial help and technology, but is showing little commitment to addressing its own significant contribution to global warming.
Although, as a developing country, India is vulnerable to the potential effects of climate change, this deal is not in India's best interests, says Narain. Unless the United States is forced to commit to reducing its emissions, India will not see the full benefits of its own efforts, she says.
The Kyoto Protocol has not been as effective as the world had hoped, says Narain, but India's best move would be insist during the next round of negotiations on protocol that the 'renegade' polluters, Australia and the United States, cut their emissions.