Posts tagged ‘Copenhagen’

China, U.S. clash over 2010 U.N. climate talks

The United States and China clashed on Friday about how to revive climate talks in 2010, complicating the first U.N. session since the acrimonious Copenhagen summit fell short of agreeing a treaty.

Many delegates at the 175-nation talks in Bonn from April 9-11 urged efforts to restore trust between rich and poor countries but few held out hopes for a breakthrough deal to fight global warming at the next major talks in Cancun, Mexico, in late 2010.

In a split between the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases, Washington said it wanted talks in 2010 to build on a non-binding Copenhagen Accord for limiting global warming reached by more than 110 nations at the December summit.

Beijing insisted negotiations should be guided by other draft U.N. texts and said Premier Wen Jiabao had been “vexed” at one point in Copenhagen by the way the meetings were organized in small groups.

“We view Copenhagen as a significant milestone,” U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing told delegates. “We believe that the accord should materially influence further negotiations. This was not a casual agreement.”

The accord, backed by about 120 nations, sets a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), but does not say how. It also holds out the prospect of $100 billion in aid a year to developing nations.

Click HERE for Full Article


April 12, 2010 at 8:41 AM Leave a comment

U.N. Climate Chief Resigns

The sense of disarray in the global effort to address climate change deepened Thursday with the resignation of Yvo de Boer, the stolid Dutch bureaucrat who led the international climate change negotiations over four tumultuous years.

His departure, which takes effect on July 1, comes after a largely unsuccessful meeting in Copenhagen in December that was supposed to produce a binding international treaty but instead generated mostly acrimony and a series of unenforceable pledges by nations to reduce their global warming emissions.

Mr. de Boer did not directly link his decision to step down to the chaos at Copenhagen. But he was known to be frustrated and exhausted by the meeting’s failures. His resignation was seen by some as a further sign that the United Nations framework, which for almost two decades has been viewed as the best approach to tackling global warming, may have outlived its usefulness. And it raised questions about whether any significant progress toward a global treaty would be made by December, when the next United Nations climate talks are to be held in Cancún, Mexico.

“If Yvo de Boer thought that there would be a legally binding treaty at the end of this year, I suspect he would be sticking around to take some of the credit for it,” said Michael A. Levi, an expert on climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He has put in a lot of time toward a very well-defined end.”

The international climate effort has been hampered by tensions between the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States and China, over how to measure and report emissions. The United States, which had promised to lead global climate talks, appears nowhere near passing legislation to control its own climate-altering pollution, and China, now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, seems determined to go its own way.

At the same time, the scientific underpinnings of the global effort to address climate change have been under steady attack in recent months. Those who are skeptical of global warming science have been invigorated by a small number of errors in the landmark 2007 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The head of that panel, Rajendra K. Pachauri, is facing criticism for those mistakes as well as accusations of conflicts of interest for taking consulting fees from business interests. (Dr. Pachauri has said that he donates all such fees to the nonprofit research institute in New Delhi that he runs.)

“We have seen a situation where the politics of climate change are really, really difficult among a number of key actors, and nobody, not even Mr. de Boer, was able to cut through that,” said Kim Carstensen, the director of the Global Climate Initiative of the World Wildlife Fund.

Janos Pasztor, the top climate change adviser for the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that Mr. de Boer called Mr. Ban two days ago to inform him of the decision. Mr. Pasztor rejected the idea that Mr. de Boer’s resignation was linked either to the lack of an outcome at Copenhagen or to the controversy over the intergovernmental panel. But others noted that, although the international system might have been at fault for Copenhagen’s failures, some rancor was inevitably directed at Mr. de Boer, as the United Nations’ central representative, and it probably speeded his departure.

“It is probably the right time to get a fresh face in. It has been a pretty grueling two years from Bali to Copenhagen,” said Mark Kenber, the policy director for the Climate Group, an international organization pushing for a climate change agreement. “A fresh face would respark the whole process.”

Some critics said that the United Nations should have moved faster to find areas where agreement among the more than 190 nations gathered at Copenhagen could be reached — rainforest preservation, for example — and designated a smaller, more manageable forum to negotiate more intractable issues blocking the talks. And Mr. de Boer, some said, was perceived as too confrontational by some nations, and some saw him as too enthusiastic in raising expectations for an international treaty, even after it became obvious that no such treaty would be forthcoming.

“His role as much as anything else was to be a cheerleader,” Mr. Kenber said. “It was probably the right thing to do; maybe he was too effusive.”

The renewed debate over the science may have also contributed to the pressures on Mr. de Boer, other critics noted.

In a statement announcing his departure, Mr. de Boer expressed disappointment about the Copenhagen talks and said that while governments could provide a framework for action on climate, the solutions must come from the businesses that produce and consume the fuels that add to global warming.

“Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming,” said Mr. de Boer, whose formal title is executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Even before the Copenhagen meltdown — the American climate negotiator Todd Stern called it a “snarling, aggravated, chaotic event” — global leaders were exploring other avenues for addressing the climate problem.

The United States last year assembled a group of 17 nations called the Major Economies Forum, which took up climate as one of its major issues and which will continue discussions in parallel to the United Nations process. The Group of 20 also put climate change on its agenda. France, Mexico, Norway and others are looking for ways to address discrete aspects of the issue, including financing for low-carbon development projects. And many nations, including the United States and China, are embarking on bilateral energy projects, wholly independent of the United Nations, with the goal of reducing emissions and developing nonpolluting alternatives.

“The U.N. system has significant weaknesses and it is probably important to develop ways to have dialogues in other, more narrow forums where we don’t have 180 people around the table at the same time,” Mr. Carstensen said.

No one was more frustrated with the Copenhagen talks than Mr. de Boer, who had traveled incessantly for four years trying to prod nations to produce a treaty on global warming by the end of 2009. In a statement, the United Nations said Mr. de Boer was joining KPMG, an international consulting group, as global adviser on climate and sustainability.

In an interview in Amsterdam on Thursday with The Associated Press, he said that the high point of his tenure at the United Nations was the agreement in Bali at the end of 2007 under which nations agreed to a December 2009 deadline to produce a worldwide treaty. That treaty was to have been signed at Copenhagen, which produced instead a much weaker political agreement after nearly two weeks of bitter and largely fruitless argument. Participants refused to ratify the three-page Copenhagen Accord that emerged from the meeting, agreeing only to “take note” of it.

February 19, 2010 at 11:31 AM Leave a comment

Is the Copenhagen Accord already dead?

Less than two months after it was hastily drafted to stave off a fiasco, the Copenhagen Accord on climate change is in a bad way, and some are already saying it has no future.

The deal was crafted amid chaos by a small group of countries, led by the United States and China, to avert an implosion of the UN’s December 7-18 climate summit.

Savaged at the time by green activists and poverty campaigners as disappointing, gutless or a betrayal, the Accord is now facing its first test in the political arena — and many views are caustic.

Veterans say the document has little traction and cannot pull the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards a new global pact by year’s end.

Political momentum is so weak that so far only two negotiating rounds have been rostered in 2010, one among officials in Bonn in mid-year, the other in Mexico at ministerial level in December.

Worse, the Accord itself already seems to have been quietly disowned by China, India and other emerging economies just weeks after they helped write it, say these sources.

The Accord’s supporters say it is the first wide-ranging deal to peg global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and gather rich and poor countries in specific pledges for curbing carbon emissions.

And it promises money: 30 billion dollars for climate-vulnerable poor countries by 2012, with as much as 100 billion dollars annually by 2020.

Critics say there is no roadmap for reaching the warming target and point out the pledges are voluntary, whereas the Kyoto Protocol — which took effect five years ago next Tuesday — has tough compliance provisions for rich polluters.

Click HERE for full story

February 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM Leave a comment

Obama Changes Tune on Copenhagen Results

President Barack Obama makes a statement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, Dec. 18, 2009. (AP)

President Barack Obama says the public is justified in its disappointment with the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit.

Despite statements from his advisers proclaiming the summit’s nonbinding agreement a great step forward, Obama says it didn’t take the steps necessary to combat the effects of climate change.

The accord Obama helped broker last week urges major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts but does not require them to do so. Still, despite its shortcomings, Obama says the agreement was better than doing nothing.

“I think that people are justified in being disappointed about the outcome in Copenhagen,” Obama said. “It didn’t move us the way we need to.”

He added: “I make no claims, and didn’t make any claims going in, that somehow that was going to be everything that we needed to do to solve climate change… My main responsibility here is to convince the American people that it is smart economics and it is going to be the engine of our economic growth for us to be a leader in clean energy.”

At the summit last week, Obama had said there had been “a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough.”

From CBS and Associate Press

Washington, Dec. 23, 2009

January 20, 2010 at 10:34 AM Leave a comment

Obama heads to Copenhagen

President Barack Obama heads to Copenhagen on Thursday to help secure a U.N. climate pact, staking his credibility on an as yet elusive deal that has ramifications for him at home and on the world stage.

Obama is expected to arrive in the Danish capital on Friday morning, joining about 120 other world leaders to finish a complicated process of reaching a political agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming.

The time is short and the stakes are high. With his top domestic priority of healthcare reform legislation percolating in Washington, the president plans to stay in Copenhagen less than a day.

That may or may not be enough time to overcome persistent disagreements between developed and developing nations that have marred two weeks of talks, but Obama’s presence and contribution could be a potential deal-maker.

The United States has proposed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. That corresponds to a 3 percent reduction from 1990 levels, the baseline used by the European Union and others.

Obama is unlikely to propose a more aggressive emissions reduction target, which many countries have demanded. His goals are based on a bill that passed the House of Representatives but has yet to go through the Senate before it can become law.

For more click HERE

December 17, 2009 at 10:17 AM Leave a comment

Developing nations hold the key to Copenhagen climate agreement

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.

For more click HERE

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

Merkel says nervous about slow pace in Copenhagen

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that she was growing nervous about the lack of progress at the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

“I can’t conceal the fact that I’ve become a bit nervous about whether we’ll be able to do it,” Merkel told a news conference with Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “We all know time is running out and we need to get serious.”

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are in Copenhagen for the talks to hammer out a deal aimed at slowing global warming.

Merkel, who says Germany will commit to reduce greenhouse emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 or even 40 percent if others agree to steep cuts, will be in Copenhagen with world leaders for the last two days on Thursday and Friday.

“It’s well known that large conferences like this, with so many different interests, sometimes stall,” she said. “But considering how little time is left everyone needs to make a constructive contribution to make Copenhagen a success.”

Yudhoyono, who hosted the U.N.-led talks in Bali two years ago and helped break a late deadlock there, will be acting as an informal co-chair in Copenhagen with Denmark, Merkel said.

“We experienced ourselves in Bali what can be done with good will,” Yudhoyono said. “We have experience with deadlock situations. This is a window of opportunity. We all know that we cannot allow (a failure) to happen.”

Indonesia, where deforestation and forest fires led to the World Bank naming it the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is seen as an important player in the fight against climate change.

Germany is the world’s sixth largest emitter.

Article HERE

December 15, 2009 at 2:57 PM Leave a comment

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