Saturday, June 13, 2009

Climate Change Treaty, to Go Beyond the Kyoto Protocol, Is Expected by the Year’s End?

Climate Change Treaty, to Go Beyond the Kyoto Protocol, Is Expected by the Year’s End?

Yes? No? Maybe?

June 12, 3009

The world is MAYBE on track to produce a new global climate treaty PERHAPS by December, the top United Nations climate official said Friday as delegates from more than 100 nations concluded 12 BORING days of HOT AIR talks in Bonn, Germany.

The delegates issued a 200-page document that they said MIGHT serve as the starting point for treaty negotiations that open in Copenhagen in December.

“Time is short, but we MIGHT STILL MAYBE have enough time,” the official, Yvo de Boer, who is the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said at a briefing. “I’m confident that governments can reach an agreement and want an agreement.”

The goal is a climate treaty that would go beyond the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a climate-change agreement that set emissions targets for industrialized nations. Many of those goals have not been met, and the United States never ratified the accord.

The document issued Friday outlines proposals for cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases by rich countries and limiting the growth of gases in the developing world. It also discusses ways of preventing deforestation, which is linked to global warming, and of providing financing for poorer nations to help them adapt to warmer temperatures.

But many environment advocates and politicians suggested that delegates had not made enough progress in winnowing down those options. “Of course we have to respect the way the United Nations works,” Denmark’s minister for climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard, said in a statement after the talks ended. “But to me, there is no doubt that things are moving too slow.”

Representatives of poor countries complained repeatedly in the talks that developed nations had not made an adequate commitment to reduce their emissions. They expressed particular dismay over Japan’s announcement this week to reduce emissions by only 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Shyam Saran, India’s envoy on climate change, called such targets “unsatisfactory.” China and other developing countries have demanded that richer nations reduce emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels in that period.

Experts described some of the back-and-forth as predictable jockeying in the months leading up to the make-or-break talks to negotiate a treaty in December.

Jonathan Pershing, who led the American delegation at the Bonn talks, said the discussions had unfolded about as fast as could be expected given the number of nations involved and the size of the task. He predicted a treaty would emerge in December.

He said that American negotiators acknowledged at the talks that “climate change is an urgent problem and it needs a global and immediate response.”

Despite the shortage of specific commitments, environmentalists took heart from the strong involvement of many nations, especially the United States and China, which jointly produce 40 percent of the world’s heat-trapping emissions. (In declining to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the United States cited China and India’s lack of participation.)

“There are a lot of options to work out, but we have come a long way,” said Alex Kaat, a spokesman for Wetlands International, which fights the destruction of rainforests and decaying bogs. “There is now text on paper, and that’s progress.”



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