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Kyoto all Over Again? US Obstructive Force at Climate Talks

Ban Ki Moon: Wealthy nations are to blame, should be first to step up

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

World leaders have agreed on one thing at COP18—so called developing countries will suffer the most extreme effects of climate change; however, the world's richest nations continued on Wednesday to refuse to help prepare these nations for their current and imminent disasters and, more pointedly, to help curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable energy development.

Protesters demand immediate international action on climate on Saturday. (Mohammed Dabbous/Reuters) With two days of negotiations left at the climate conference in Doha, the European Union and the United States refused to contribute to "climate funding" for developing nations, confirming fears that wealthy nations would create another cog in the machine for drastically needed global progress on the climate change front.

On the docket at this year's talks has been the bolstering of such climate funds that are designed to help other countries develop sustainable energy as well as combat the current and future effects of climate change. In response, the U.S., who refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol and has consistently registered as one of the world's worst greenhouse gas emitters, said it was already "doing what we agreed to do," as the EU said it could not afford to help.

Meanwhile, pledges from far less affluent countries began to trickle in.

Developing countries have said they need at least another $60 billion from now to 2015 to deal with climate change-induced droughts, floods, rising seas and storms; however, of the $36 billion previously pledged to those countries' climate funds, just $2 billion has actually been given; the U.S. and Germany had both pledged the least.

On Wednesday, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that such wealthy nations are largely to blame for climate change, and should thus lead the way fiscally and politically, in the race against global warming.

"The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialization of the developed world," he stated. "It's only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility."

However, the U.S. and others continued to appear sluggish and resistant.

On Wednesday, Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman questioned U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing at the conference, over the United States’ failure to do more to cut emissions.

"And how do you respond to civil society groups who are saying that the U.S. is the lead obstructor to any kind of negotiated deal here in Doha?" Goodman asked.

Pershing ambiguously responded, "This is, after all, a negotiation. We’re looking to participate in an outcome that will lead to a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. We’re looking at an outcome that will be acceptable to all parties [excerpt]."

"The Doha caravan seems to be lost in the sand," Ronald Jumeau, spokesman for a group of small island nations (AOSIS), told a joint news conference. "As far as ambition is concerned, we are lost."

"We're past the mitigation (emissions cuts) and adaptation eras. We're now right into the era of loss and damage. What's next after that? Destruction? Disappearance of some of our islands?" he continued.

Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International said, "Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing [U.S. negotiators] have come to Doha with their needles stuck in the groove of obstructing the U.N. process, an art they have perfected."

He continued, it is "disrespectful of President Obama to inflict on us two negative negotiators who act as if the comments he made after his election were never made."

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