Climate Talks Strive to Make a Deal: Copenhagen Day 10 Roundup

by | Dec 17, 2009

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UNclimateEnvironment ministers have a tough day of negotiations ahead of them as heads of state arrive in Copenhagen to potentially seal a new climate deal Dec. 18 at the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15).

U.N. climate chief Yvo De Boer told the Xinhua News Agency that the world is in an “all-or-nothing situation” and is urging major countries including the U.S. to act now. “We either get a deal at the end of this week on Friday or we get nothing,” De Boer said during the interview.

De Boer also asked the U.S. to make a specific proposal on climate financing for developing countries, and called China’s commitment to cut CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 “very encouraging,” reports Xinhua.

Representatives of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER) and the European Commission told BusinessWeek that developed nations such as the U.S. and Japan may agree by Dec. 18 to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by about half of what is needed to slow global warming.

Summing up the progress so far on Dec. 17, Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, told BusinessWeek in an interview: “It’s been a day of complete stalemate.”

Reuters is reporting that heads of states will face draft texts filled with incomplete choices that indicate just how split rich and poor countries are on key issues. The article also indicates that some ministers believe it was doomed for failure as the talks started out slow and often stalled.

The same issues that split rich and poor nations several months ago remain: who should cut emissions, how deep should the cuts be, and who will fund and how much funding will go to help poor countries combat climate change, according to Reuters.

Some progress has been made. Rich nations have pledged about $22 billion on Dec. 16 to combat global warming, with Japan leading the pack by promising $19.5 billion if a comprehensive deal is reached at Copenhagen, reports AFP.

In addition to Japan, Australia, Britain, France, Norway and the United States also said they would set up a deforestation fund of $3.5 billion from 2010 to 2012 to fight the loss of forests, reports AFP.

Under a program sponsored by the UN, Ontario, Canada will also help a developing region fight climate change. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) matches governments of developed nations to those of developing ones.

Ontario will enter into a three-year agreement and anticipates a contribution of $1 million in funding. Additional sponsorship details will be released over the next several months.

It also appears that China may be willing to compromise, dropping hardline language and suggesting “national communications” on emissions, according to Reuters.

But still, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is having a difficult time convincing developing countries to follow the Danish presidency’s plan to table new texts to try to break the deadlock, reports the News Market.

Yvo de Boer said the Danish presidency prepared the texts to facilitate the decision-making process because there are a number of critical issues that still need to be resolved, reports Xinhua.

In addition, Greenpeace accused the U.S. on Dec. 16 of delaying the negotiation process for around 10 hours by insisting on major changes to the negotiating text during a plenary session, reports the News Market.

However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that if an agreement is reached, the United States has pledged to help raise a $100-billion fund to help developing countries combat climate change, reports the New York Times.

Climate watchers says this is a major breakthrough in talks, which nearly stalled on Dec. 16, but Clinton says the U.S. will hold to its promise as long as fast-growing developing countries such as China and India accept binding commitments and verification, reports the New York Times.

“The United States has joined other rich economies to signal a greater seriousness about helping developing countries and building a more solid international deal. Countries are going to be asking for more details, including how much public finance is involved; how much is really new; and how decisions around spending the money will be made,” said Jennifer Morgan, director, Climate and Energy Program, World Resources Institute, in a press statement.

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