Draft deal gives lift to flagging climate talks

COPENHAGEN Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:16pm EST

1 of 2. U.S. President Barack Obama gives a final wave as he and his wife Michelle depart the balcony of the Grand Hotel in Oslo to attend the Nobel banquet December 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A draft climate pact unveiled on Friday revived hopes that U.N. talks might be able to pin down an international deal to fight global warming, but developing nations said they needed more cash from the rich.

With less than a week until more than 110 world leaders descend on the talks, the proposal that would at least halve global emissions by 2050 sought to bridge some of the long-standing rifts between rich and poor nations.

A European Union offer of 7.3 billion euros ($10.8 billion) of climate aid over the next three years was welcomed by the United Nations and the Danish hosts of the December 7-18 talks in Copenhagen.

"Things are progressing," said Connie Hedegaard, the Danish minister who presides at the negotiations.

The first four days of talks moved so slowly that European Commission delegate Karl Falkenberg joked on Friday that progress was only visible under a magnifying glass.

Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said the draft text marked a "step change" in the negotiations. "It's time to focus on the bigger picture," he told reporters.

The documents propose a global emissions goal for 2050, a target developing countries have opposed in the past, and omits figures for how many billions of dollars rich nations should give poorer ones to help them tackle climate change.

The text is also vague on when greenhouse gas emissions should peak.

China, now the world's largest emitter, said rich nations needed to provide long-term cash if they wanted the developing world to agree long-term emissions goals.

"I doubt the sincerity of developed countries in their commitment. Why are they not talking about a commitment of providing funds through 2050? That will make them credible when they are asking for an emissions reduction by 2050," said Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei.

African nations said they were still considering the draft, but were also unhappy about financing.

"What will it be used for? The developed countries found $1.4 trillion to combat the financial crisis. Now they're offering just $10 billion to fight climate change," said Kemal Djemouai, the Algerian chair of the African Group of nations.

Small islands that face being washed away by rising seas also put out a far more ambitious draft proposal they said was a minimum needed to ward off disastrous climate change.

They want a legally binding pact that Denmark says is now almost impossible to achieve, and one delegate from the tiny island state of Tuvalu warned that leaders of the most vulnerable states might prefer no deal to a toothless one.

Chief U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said the draft was a "constructive text" but a deal still hung in the balance.

Australia also gave a cautious response. "We've got a lot of work to do," Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told reporters in Copenhagen.

"Primarily the problem is this is not a document capable of delivering the environmental outcome the world needs."

"VERY, VERY DIFFICULT"

The draft text covers both an extension of the existing U.N. Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012, and a parallel track of talks which draws in those outside Kyoto, including the United States.

The text offers a range for global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, of at least 50 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.

Developing nations led by China and India have in the past rejected signing up for a halving of world emissions by 2050 without more stringent short-term goals for developed nations.

For these emissions cuts the draft agreement proposes an average range laid out by a U.N. panel of climate scientists in 2007, of at least 25-40 percent, also from 1990 levels.

This might be acceptable to developing nations, though many have asked for more, but emissions cuts pledged so far from recession-hit developed nations total only about 14-18 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

"This is one of the main obstacles. We know that this is going to be very, very difficult," said Hedegaard, although she added that the goal was closer than ever before.

The text said developing nations, which say they need to emit more as they curb poverty, should either make a "substantial deviation" to slow the growth of their emissions by 2020 or slow growth 15-30 percent below projected levels.

This may create another obstacle by angering Japan, which on Friday threatened to drop a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020 if the Kyoto Protocol is extended without emissions goals for the United States and China.

Businesses' unwillingness to share ideas and the remoteness of their summit from the main climate talks threatened to prevent a common industry voice which could cut the cost of a low-carbon shift, senior executives said on Friday.

Senior executives met at a separate location several miles from the U.N. talks, and accepted that the business lobby was split on climate action which could disadvantage energy-intensive sectors including cement and power generation.

"It's difficult to imagine one voice," Duke Energy Chief Executive Jim Rogers told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Gerard Wynn, Richard Cowan, Alister Doyle, and Chisa Fujioka in TOKYO, Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Comments (3)
Toria wrote:
Too little too late. I feel sorry for the polar bears and all creatures who have and will suffer at the hands of stupidity that is purely human.

Dec 11, 2009 1:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Outdoorsman wrote:
What many seem to give no focus to is that there is a imperative beyond climate change to develop to the fullest extent possible ALL available renewable sources of energy.

It’s called peak oil.

Giant strides are needed, and needed NOW, if the global community does not wish to see the world economic ship go under within the next 20 years.

Economic and climate needs in this case go hand in hand if you take a long view of what is going to HAVE to happen for both.

The same renewables that are needed to address climate change, (hydro, wind, geothermal, tidal & solar……and yes nuclear)need to be brought on line VERY, VERY quickly for economic reasons as well.

The many heads of state/UN ect. are to focused on short term political costs of this needed move to renewables & what that is going to cost in both money & political terms. What they should be focusing on is what those costs will be if not taken NOW.

Right now the world is at about the bottom of a sharp downturn in the worlds economies. And the jobs needed to get these economies moving strongly forward can come in part from development of renewables. The US in particular should be moving in this direction much more aggressively than even the plan Mr. Obama has proposed for them. IF the US were to aggressively develop these sources of energy they’d be able to take a greater role in the directions they take & the benefits of a fast growth sector for good paying & stable jobs for the people of the US.

Once the world economies rebound, the costs are going to raise very sharply as will the price for natural gas & oil as demand picks back up. How then will these leaders pay for the needed changes if they won’t do so now? The answer is they probably won’t. We’ll all hear again (as we did from Mr. Bush) that the costs to the US economy would just be to high.

And we’ll also be hearing about the ruinous costs for fossil fuels & how those costs will be destroying the whole worlds economic future……..again!

Disgusting isn’t it? ? ?

Dec 11, 2009 6:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
D.Baker wrote:
It got to binding with teeth!

In plain english the penalties must be still enough to encourage investment in alternative energy!
These penalties could be applied to damages!

Dennis Earl Baker

103 – 66 Duncan avenue west

Penticton British Columbia V2A6Z3

Phone/Fax 778-476-3673

25/11/2009

The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the world on the Latest Climate Science. Has again indicated urgency in action is imperative. Here’s my solution and immediate areas of impact.
dennisbaker2003@hotmail.com
RE : The solution to climate change.
( human excrement + nuclear waste = hydrogen )
The USA discharges Trillions of tons of sewage annually, sufficient quantity to sustain electrical generation requirements of the USA.
Redirecting existing sewage systems to containment facilities would be a considerable infrastructure modification project.
It is the intense radiation that causes the conversion of organic material into hydrogen, therefore what some would consider the most dangerous waste because of its radiation would be the best for this utilization.
I believe the combination of clean water and clean air, will increase the life expectancy of humans.
The four main areas of concern globally are energy, food,water and air!
The radiologic decomposing of organic materials generates Hydrogen
By using our sewage as a source of energy we also get clean air , clean water, and no ethanol use of food stocks. Eat food first, create energy after.
Simply replacing the fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities with these plants, would reduce CO2 emissions, and CH4 emissions, to acceptable levels, globally.
This would require a completely new reactor facility capable of converting human waste into hydrogen and then burning the hydrogen to generate electricity on site.
This solution is sellable to citizens because of all the side issue solutions. I’ve been able to convince most simply with concept of using nuclear waste to a productive end.
Superbugs ( antibiotic resistant ) apparently are created in the waters sewage is discharged into, which is one more side issue solution.
Anything not converting into hydrogen will potentially be disposed of using Transmutation.
The water emitted from hydrogen burning will have uses in leaching heavy metals from other contaminated site clean ups.
I thank you for your consideration, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Dennis Baker

Dec 11, 2009 9:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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