Developing nations hold the key to Copenhagen climate agreement

December 16, 2009 at 10:30 AM Leave a comment

The world’s poorest and fastest-growing developing nations appear, increasingly, to hold the fate of a new climate agreement in their hands. The choice they face is, deal or no deal?

As the Copenhagen climate summit barreled into its penultimate phase Tuesday, wealthy countries ramped up pressure on emerging economies China and India, as well as African and island nations, to compromise and drop near-daily procedural tactics and protests that have slowed the negotiations.

Rich nations still hold some bargaining chips, chiefly how much money they’re willing to commit to help developing countries adapt to climate change and shift their energy sources over the long term.

A collapse in negotiations would trigger a blame game in which developing nations brand the United States and the West in general as the villains. Still, many negotiators and observers here say most of the key decisions that will seal or scuttle an agreement rest with poor and emerging nations.

China and India, whose booming economies are projected to account for much of the world’s emissions growth in coming decades, must decide whether they can accept the two conditions the U.S. calls fundamental to an agreement: that all nations make their carbon dioxide emissions reduction pledges clear and that they allow the world to verify that the pledges in fact are met.

Africans and island nations, for their part, must choose whether to accept greenhouse gas reductions for the developed world that are far weaker than the poor countries would like; scientists warn that the reductions proposed by wealthy nations might not be enough to spare the world’s poorest nations from flood, famine and other devastating effects of climate change.

Inside the Bella Center, the venue for the negotiations, summit attendees with deep ties to the developing world diverged sharply on whether those nations would ultimately strike an agreement or walk away.

“Only a fool will tell you definitely they know what China’s midnight position will be,” said Peter Goldmark, who directs the climate and air program for the Environmental Defense Fund, a group that works closely with China.

Goldmark thinks China will ultimately hold its line and reject international emissions-pledge monitoring in any form, a move U.S. officials insist would kill hopes for a deal. Other groups say China, the world’s largest emitter, does not want to risk blame if the talks fall through.

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Entry filed under: Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, Green Help, National News. Tags: , , , , .

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