Time is Running Out for Global Climate Deal, UN Leader Says


Photo via the University of Texas

Yvo de Boer, the man responsible for leading the charge to map out a global climate treaty this December in Copenhagen, is concerned. And rightfully so--there's a huge mess left to be sorted out before nations should be considered ready to even come to the table for the fast-approaching historic climate talks. Huge, developing countries disagree on whether they should have to make emissions reductions. Rich countries are torn over how much they're willing to help fund developing ones' struggles against climate change. Nobody's happy. And time is running out.Fast. There are, in fact a mere 119 days and counting until the session convenes in Copenhagen, and world leaders set about attempting to agree on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. This, it needs not be said (but I'll say it anyways) is a truly gargantuan task.

The BBC reports:

Mr de Boer warned: "You're looking at hugely divergent interests, very little time remaining, a complicated document on the table and still a lot of progress to be made on some very important issues like finance."
Of course, those 'hugely divergent interests' mostly revolve around one big one: large, fast-growing economies' interest in developing and industrializing without impeding their growth by limiting carbon emissions. China, India, and Brazil are currently the best examples of this. All have said they won't agree to binding carbon reduction targets--unless the rich world makes agreements to tougher targets, or helps shoulder the financial burden that reaching such targets would require.

These topics were broached--again--at an informal series of climate talks today in Bonn. And the US, still persisting in keeping a newly renewed active role in global climate policy, remains optimistic. From the BBC:

The head of the US delegation here, Jonathan Pershing, said that having those two countries included was "absolutely part of the deal". "We see success in Copenhagen as in no small measure a function of what all these major players do," he told BBC News. "Ourselves, Europe, China, India, Japan - it has to be the major emitters. If we think of a group of about 15 countries, they comprise on the order of 75% of global emissions. "We can't solve this without them; you need them all and they all have to move immediately."
And while there is definite progress in these lead-up talks, leaders say it's much to slow.
Speaking at the start of the latest round of UN discussions, Yvo de Boer said the political signals were positive, but progress still too slow . . . "We've got a 200-plus-page text riddled with square brackets (where issues are unresolved)," Mr de Boer told BBC News. "And it worries me to think how on earth we're going to whittle that down to meaningful language with just five weeks of negotiating time left."
Needless to say, all green eyes will be on such talks and negotiations as the long road to Copenhagen grows ever shorter.

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