Mexico Says Climate Talks Going 'Well,' Kyoto Can Wait (Update1)
2010-12-03 17:59:23.919 GMT
(Adds comments from Brazilian, Bangladeshi and South Korean
envoys starting in fourth paragraph.)
By Alex Morales
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations climate talks in
Cancun, Mexico, are proceeding "well," and a debate over the
future of the Kyoto Protocol treaty can wait two more years,
Mexican Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said.
With a week of negotiations to go, it's too early to tell
what final decisions will emerge, though agreements are within
reach on protecting forests, setting up a "green fund" to
channel climate aid and formalizing emission-reduction pledges
made last year by the biggest polluters, Mexico's Elvira Quesada
said in an interview in the resort city.
"It's like the 10th minute of a football match," Elvira
Quesada said yesterday. "We've just started seeing how the
negotiations are beginning to unwrap. What really grabs the
attention is the spirit, the attitude, the disposition of all
the countries. In general, the whole process is going well."
Elvira Quesada's assessment that the atmosphere of the
talks is positive was backed up by negotiators from Brazil,
Bangladesh and South Korea. Even so, Japan's rejection of taking
new commitments under the Kyoto treaty when current caps expire
in 2012 could undermine progress, according to Sergio Serra,
Brazilian Ambassador for Climate Change.
"The Japanese position can be serious because it can
jeopardize the whole package that we may very well get out of
Cancun," Serra said in an interview in Cancun. "I hope it is
positioning and that we can, in the negotiating process, get
Two Year of Life
Delegates from China and India have said the development
could derail the discussions in Mexico. It needn't be a barrier
to progress, Elvira Quesada said.
"The Kyoto Protocol doesn't need to be changed from here
to Dec. 10," when the current round of talks end, he said. "It
still has two years left of life, and we can dedicate ourselves
to other areas where the world expects solutions."
Japanese negotiator Kuni Shimada said in a Nov. 30
interview that the protocol is outdated because it doesn't set
targets for the world's two biggest emitters, the U.S. and
China. The U.S. never ratified the pact, which sets no binding
greenhouse-gas emissions goals for developing nations.
Elvira Quesada said an eventual solution could be to
maintain the Kyoto treaty, which was devised in 1997, and add an
annex or another legal document that brings in the U.S., China
and other major emitters.
Emissions pledges made by nations in the non-binding
Copenhagen Accord agreed at last year's summit the Danish
capital could be formalized this month in Cancun, Elvira Quesada
said. The pledges aren't included in a formal UN document,
because nations including Bolivia, Venezuela and Sudan said they
weren't consulted during the drafting of the pact.
The accord spelled out a "shared vision" setting out a
goal of limiting global warming since industrialization in the
18th century to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Delegates in Cancun should aim to bring that goal into the
official UN process and also build on it, South Korean
Ambassador for Climate Change Shin Yeon-Sung said today in an
"The long-term goal is the most important pillar" of an
agreement," said Shin. "I want to add the idea of a paradigm
shift as the way to implement the goal. We want a shift in
industrial, economic and even social life," he said, referring
to promoting low-carbon industries including smart-grid
technology that makes electricity use more efficient.
The emissions pledges included in the Copenhagen Accord
aren't ambitious enough to meet the 2-degree goal, the UN
Environment Program said Nov. 23. UNEP Chief Scientist Joseph
Alcamo said then that the goals, set by the world's biggest
emitters, including China, the U.S., India and Brazil, could
lead to a temperature rise of 2.5 to 5 degrees by 2100.
"We are in favor of a legally binding arrangement, but I
don't think it's possible at this stage," Brazil's Serra said.
"It might even be counter-productive if it reflects the current
stage of ambition, which is very poor."
A package on reducing emissions from deforestation and
forest degradation -- or REDD in UN jargon, is "ripe" for
agreement, though some countries may want progress on other
issues, such as technology transfer and funding for adaptation
to climate change before they allow it to pass, Serra said.
Delegates in Mexico could also agree to set up a green fund
to channel aid to adaptation and emissions-reduction projects in
developing nations, Elvira Quesada and Bangladeshi envoy Quamrul
Rowing Back Expectations
The Mexican approach of rowing back expectations away from
the idea of reaching a single, legally-binding treaty may be
working, according to South Korea's Shin.
"Mexico focused their efforts on recovering from the
aftershocks we experience in Copenhagen last year," Shin said.
"They wanted to be realistically ambitious and they have
Mexico's Elvira Quesada said all countries need to take
something from Cancun.
"There needs to be a balanced set of decisions that are
useful to every country in the world so that every country in
the world can go home and say 'this is the benefit we reap,'"
the minister said. Even so, he warned against holding some areas
of the talks hostage to progress in other areas. "The perfect
solution is the enemy of the good agreement," he said.
For Related News and Information:
Top environment and renewable energy stories: GREEN <GO>
Stories about the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
Locations of global energy facilities: BMAP <GO>
--Editors: Mike Anderson, Todd White.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in Cancun, Mexico, at +44-20-7330-7718 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or