UN postpones climate hopes for another year

While Bolivia stole the headlines at this weekend’s climate talks in Bonn, the usual suspects took the blame as the United Nations lowered expectations once again for a binding international agreement on climate change this year.
“There is a standoff in terms of, we are saying okay we do not want to be alone in the Kyoto Protocol, the United States should take on a legally binding agreement. The United States is saying but we will only do that if China and India also do this,”Artur Runge-Metzger, chief negotiator for the European Commission, said at a press conference in Bonn this morning. “I think that’s where the problem lies in the end. On that side of the equation things are not working.”
“I think I’ve named the main countries,” he told reporters. “You know them very well.”
India has stated its primary objective in climate negotiations is to protect its economic growth, which has been lifting its 1.1 billion people out of poverty. China has shown progress developing alternative energy sources, but it shrinks from any legally binding agreement that might imperil its economic growth.
The U.S. won’t reduce its carbon emissions only to see them replaced with emissions from India, China, Brazil and South Africa, said Jonathan Pershing, the chief U.S. negotiator in Bonn.
“We are of the view that if there would be a binding arrangement would be applicable only in the cases in which there was symmetry particularly between the developed and the major emerging economies,” Pershing said at a press briefing this morning.
Meanwhile, Yvo de Boer, the outgoing chair of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, told Reuters a global climate deal is impossible in 2010. Among the most patient and tenacious optimists in the community of climate diplomats, de Boer sought to lower the world’s expectations for an overarching treaty and shift focus to more practical local efforts, like reforestation and clean energy technology.

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