Contentious Climate Talks End with Deal to Talk, Negotiate More

Published on
by
Associated Press

Contentious Climate Talks End with Deal to Talk, Negotiate More

by
Arthur Max

BONN, Germany — Delegates to the first U.N. climate talks after
Copenhagen have agreed to intensify their negotiations on curbing
greenhouse gases before this year's decisive ministerial conference in
Cancun, Mexico.

The agreement — itself a tacit acknowledgment of
the slow progress in reaching a global climate pact — followed three
days of at-times rancorous discussions that nearly ground to a halt.

It
was an early warning that the split between industrial countries and
the developing world will likely continue characterizing the talks.

Bolivian
delegate Pablo Solon said Monday he was pleased Sunday's agreement made
no mention of the Copenhagen Agreement — a political deal hastily
cobbled together by President Barack Obama and a handful of other
national leaders at the end of the U.N. talks in December.

"Despite
continual attempts by the U.S. to make the completely unacceptable
Copenhagen Accord the basis for future negotiations, I am glad to say
they failed," Solon said in a statement.

Many other countries —
even among the 120 countries that supported the Copenhagen Accord —
denounced the closed-door manner in which it was negotiated, and voiced
disappointment that its emissions requirements were only voluntary.

The
delegates from 175 parties spent most of their time in Bonn squabbling
over seemingly minor procedural issues surrounding how to conduct the
negotiations for the rest of the year, including the authorization of a
committee chairwoman to prepare a draft text for the next meeting in
June, also in Bonn.

The delegates approved two previously
unscheduled meetings after the June session, each lasting at least a
week. They are meant as working sessions for delegates to refine the
draft text before the final Cancun conference Nov. 29-Dec. 10. Each
round of talks will cost between $3.5 million and $7 million, depending
on where they are held. Locations have yet to be decided.

After the letdown of Copenhagen, officials downplayed expectations of a final deal being reached this year.

"We
should not be striving to get answers to each and every question in
Cancun," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. climate secretariat, said
Sunday. "The quest to address climate change is a long journey, and
achieving perfection takes practice."

The final agreement is
meant to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has provisions capping
greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries that expire in 2012.
The new accord would be expanded to curtail emissions by swiftly
developing countries like China, which already has surpassed the United
States as the world's biggest polluter.

At a final session on
Sunday, delegates wrangled over wording that implied a lesser status
for the Copenhagen Accord. Also on the table was a draft treaty
painstakingly negotiated among more than 190 countries over the last
two years, but which leaves many core issues unresolved.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

"This is
not even a negotiating decision," chairwoman Margaret
Mukahanana-Sangarwe said in frustration, trying to cut off the debate.
"If we can't agree on this, then we may have problems when we really
start negotiating."

The Copenhagen Accord sets a goal of limiting
the increase in the Earth's average temperature to below 2 degrees
Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from preindustrial levels, but does not
specify how that should be done.

It asks industrial countries to
set targets for reducing carbon dioxide and other polluting gases
causing global warming, while asking developing countries to submit
national plans for slowing their emissions growth. It also calls for
international monitoring to ensure those goals are met, but does not
set any penalties.

U.S. chief delegate Jonathan Pershing said the
accord was a package deal, and rejected suggestions "in which certain
elements are cherry picked."

Pershing also confirmed Washington
opposed granting financial help to countries that refused to sign onto
the Copenhagen deal, which included a $30 billion three-year package of
aid for handling climate emergencies and helping poor countries turn to
low-carbon growth.

"Countries that are not part of the accord
would not be given substantial funding under the accord," Pershing told
reporters. "It's not a free rider process."

On Saturday,
Bolivia's Solon, an ambassador to the United Nations, protested the
cutoff of funds from the U.S. Global Climate Change initiative as "a
very bad practice" and an attempt to put pressure countries to support
the agreement.

Bolivia is holding a grass-roots World Peoples
Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth on April 19-22,
with the aim of presenting an alternative agenda for consideration by
U.N. climate delegates.

Share This Article

More in: