(BN) U.S., EU Expect Limited Progress at Climate Talks, No Treaty


U.S., EU Expect Limited Progress at Climate Talks, No Treaty
2010-11-29 22:06:45.111 GMT

By Kim Chipman and Alex Morales
Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. and European Union envoys said
they expect progress on forming a $100 billion fund to fight
global warming and on protecting forests at climate talks in
Cancun, Mexico, though no treaty will be agreed.
"We come here with a sense of realism," said Peter
Wittoeck, climate negotiator for Belgium, which holds the
rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU. "This will have to be
an incremental step."
The comments, at the start of two weeks of meetings
involving more than 190 nations, suggest there's not enough
political backing for an accord to limit an increase in the
temperature of the atmosphere to 2 degrees Celsius, said
Christiana Figueres, the UN's chief envoy leading the talks.
"Even if all the national targets and actions now on the
table were enacted in full, they will not lead to the goal of
limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius," Figueres said today at a
press conference in Cancun, Mexico.
Gains of that scale would exacerbate the harmful effects of
climate change, which already this year has been responsible for
21,000 deaths, twice the level in 2009, according to Oxfam. The
London-based pressure group said global warming is linked to
record temperatures and floods in Pakistan that displaced 20
million people and wildfires in Russia that destroyed 26 percent
of the nation's wheat crop this year.

'Will Not Deliver'

"Cancun will not deliver everything that a global response
to climate change should," said Tim Gore of Oxfam. "It can
deliver outcomes that will benefit poor people."
With the World Meteorological Organization warning that
emissions of the greenhouse gasses blamed for damaging the
atmosphere are at a record, envoys have yet to work out a way to
extend the cuts to carbon dioxide output they agreed in Kyoto,
Japan in 1997.
Talks aimed at a treaty collapsed in Copenhagen a year ago
and produced instead a non-binding package of promises from the
U.S., China, India and other countries. Figueres and Jonathan
Pershing, who leads the U.S. delegation, said progress this year
could be made on reducing emissions by protecting forests that
absorb CO2 and on starting a "green fund" that would help poor
nations adapt to climate change.
"If countries take a determined and pragmatic view we can
make progress on anchoring mitigation pledges," Pershing said
at a press conference after talks began in Cancun. "We can make
progress on creating a green fund. Balanced advances in all of
these would be an important contribution in dealing with the
climate change problem."

Obama's Pledge

Pershing reiterated President Barack Obama's pledge to cut
emissions 17 percent by 2020 and on delivering $1.7 billion in
2010 for the green fund even though elections in November
restricted the administration's influence in Congress. Energy
Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and
Nancy Sutley, an adviser to the White House, will attend the
talks next week.
Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, who is chairing
the discussions, said that "the minimum" the talks should
accomplish is a confirmation of the pledges like the one Obama
made at Copenhagen.
Figueres, who took her post earlier this year after
predecessor Yvo de Boer resigned in the wake of the failure at
Copenhagen, urged delegates to compromise in order to reach an

'Compromise' is 'Wisdom'

"When the stakes are high and the issues are challenging,
compromise is an act of wisdom that can unite different
positions in creative ways," Figueres, who is the head of the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a speech to
delegates today.
Tomorrow, negotiators will discuss a plan that formally
would call on nations to limit global warming to 2 degrees
Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
Such language was included last year in Copenhagen by the U.S.,
China, India and other countries but not adopted by the UN-led
Delegates gathering for the talks this weekend said
divisions between the U.S. and China, the world's two biggest
polluters, helped rule out a new treaty this year.
While China looks like it will incorporate its Copenhagen
pledges into law next year, the situation in the U.S. is
"difficult" at the moment after elections earlier in the month
changed the composition of Congress, said Artur Runge-Metzger,
lead negotiator for the 27-nation European Union.

'Tough Task'

"China is certainly trying to make efforts to put the
pledges they made into Copenhagen into their five-year plan,"
Runge-Metzger said in an interview in Cancun last night. "It's a
tough task for the Obama administration to take this matter
forward because it's heavily politicized."
The efforts to reduce output of carbon dioxide from cars,
power plants and other man-made sources is urgent, Figueres
said, citing a report from the World Meteorological Organization
last week that showed concentrations of greenhouse gases at
record levels.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the panel that oversees
climate science for the UN, said emissions must peak by 2015 and
then start declining if the world hopes to avoid dangerous and
irreversible climate shifts.
"Warming of the climate system is now unequivocal," said
Pachauri, who leads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. "Warming could lead to some impacts that are abrupt or
irreversible" and delaying action "only increase costs

Deaths in Mexico

Mexican President Felipe Calderon told negotiators in
Cancun today that global warming already is causing natural
disasters in his nation, killing at least 60 people this year
in storms and events linked to turbulent weather alone in his
country and 1,000 in Guatemala.
"Climate change is already a reality for us," Calderon
said. "When we are negotiating we should think of our children.
We should think of the generations to come. In this territory
there can be no rivalries. It is a shared challenge."
Figueres said the delegates had a complicated but not
impossible task ahead of them. She noted rich nations already
had pledged $28 billion of the finance needed to help poor
countries cope with climate change.
"In the past, you have woven tapestries that have turned
into significant achievements," Figueres said. "I urge you to
further advance those issues in Cancun and to continue weaving
them into ever more effective achievements. The task isn't easy,
but it's achievable."

For Related News and Information:
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Most-read environmental news: MNI ENV <GO>
Renewable Energy Stories: NI ALTNRG <GO>
For emissions-market news: NI ENVMARKET <GO>

--Editors: Reed Landberg, Will Wade

To contact the reporters on this story:
Alex Morales in Cancun, Mexico, at +44-20-7330-7718 or
amorales2@bloomberg.net; or
Kim Chipman in Cancun, Mexico, at +1-202-624-1927 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or