UN Talks May Heal Rift About Greenhouse Gas Curbs (Update1)
2010-12-09 19:54:50.289 GMT
(Adds comment from U.K. in 12th.)
By Kim Chipman and Jim Efstathiou Jr.
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil, appointed by the United
Nations to help defuse a dispute between rich and poor countries
regarding greenhouse gas emission reductions, said it's
optimistic an agreement can be reached.
"We are exploring language that could hopefully bridge
pointed gaps and that may resolve the issue," Brazil's climate
negotiator Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado said. "We are
working very hard. It is not over yet. I am optimistic,
The rift marred the UN's annual conference on fighting
climate change, due to end tomorrow in Cancun, Mexico. Japan
last night hardened its opposition to extending limits on fossil
fuel emissions set under the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in
2012. China, India and South Africa say new pledges under that
1997 accord are essential.
Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said today that
it's proving "very difficult" to reach an agreement on Kyoto.
He also said envoys are having trouble working out the details
of a program that would verify emissions cuts.
"I've booked my flights for Saturday morning," Ramesh
said. "They can't carry this on interminably."
Brazil's comments touch on one of the two most
controversial elements of the discussions, which also aim to
protect forests, channel $100 billion a year in climate aid to
poor nations and establish a system for verifying emissions
reductions. Off the agenda this year is the legally binding pact
delegates tried and failed to agree last year in Copenhagen.
"A number of the crunch issues still need to be tackled,"
said Wendel Trio, international climate policy director at
environment group Greenpeace. Delegates also haven't reached a
consensus on how to check the accuracy of emissions cuts, he
said, something the U.S. and European Union demanded from
In another sign of discord, Bolivia's representatives
walked out of an informal meeting last night, said Luis Alfonso
del Alba, a Mexican negotiator. Last year, Bolivia and five
other nations triggered the collapse of talks in Copenhagen by
blocking an agreement there from being adopted by the UN.
Bolivia will remain in the formal part of the talks.
In a speech to delegates this morning, Morales gave no
indication of seeking to block the outcome of the Cancun
meeting, stressing instead that it would be "ecocide" to scrap
the Kyoto Protocol.
"If we are to give hope to the peoples of the world we
need to cool down the temperature," Morales said. "We must
live up to the hopes of the millions of families who are the
victims of global warming."
Britain, which along with Brazil, also was working on a
compromise for the Kyoto issue, said progress has been made
toward a pact, though it's still uncertain whether the
developing countries most insistent on extending Kyoto will
agree to put aside their demands at this meeting.
"There's no doubt where the center of gravity now is, and
the real issue now is whether the countries that are on the
extremes are prepared to recognise that they're not going to get
what they want here in Cancun," Chris Huhne, the U.K. energy
and environment secretary, told reporters in Cancun today.
"It really is a need for the spirit of compromise."
China last night said Japan's decision to harden its
opposition to renewing greenhouse gas limits in the Kyoto
Protocol may derail this year's talks by reducing the
willingness of developing countries to make concessions in other
areas of the negotiations.
'Crisis of Confidence'
"If a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol
cannot be agreed at this Cancun session, it will create an
international crisis of confidence in the forthcoming process of
climate change negotiations," said Liu Zhenmin, China's deputy
Japan said it rebuffed a request from the UN for more
flexibility on the subject. The country says that moving forward
under the 1997 treaty makes no sense because it doesn't require
emissions reductions from the world's two biggest polluters, the
U.S. and China.
Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto said today that Japan
wouldn't "associate itself" with any future Kyoto limits,
preferring instead a new treaty. Kuni Shimada, Japan's lead
climate envoy in Cancun, said yesterday the nation's position on
Kyoto remains "very firm."
'From the Top'
"That's the position coming from the top," Shimada said
in an interview.
Russia and Canada also oppose agreeing to a second
commitment period under Kyoto. The U.S. never signed up to the
pact and wants future pledges to cut emissions to be done under
the framework of a different treaty.
"We support the Copenhagen Accord because it brings in all
the emitters," John Baird, Conservative leader in Canada's
House of Commons, said in an interview today. "That's the
future. If we exclude 73 percent of all emissions then emissions
will skyrocket. Nobody wants that."
U.S. lead climate negotiator Todd Stern said he's concerned
the rift over Kyoto will thwart any advance in talks for a new
treaty. There's been "pretty good progress" in those
negotiations, Stern told reporters in Cancun on Dec. 7.
'Hate to Lose'
"You'd hate to lose that because the thing crashed over
the Kyoto Protocol," Stern said. "It is not clear whether it's
Envoys should agree to channel at least 50 percent of
climate funding to efforts to help the most vulnerable nations
and people adapt to the effects of climate change, said Mary
Robinson, former president of Ireland and Honorary President of
the Oxford, England-based development charity Oxfam.
"Climate change is undermining the poorest lifestyles,"
Robinson said in an interview in Cancun. "Subsistence farmers,
indigenous people and women are trying to cope with it. We have
to put people at the center of this process."
China's Liu told reporters yesterday that a "balanced
comprehensive outcome will not be made without agreement on the
Danish Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis agreed that
the talks hang in the balance.
"There is still a deal to be done," she said in an
interview. "We could also end up with a belly flop."
Deadline for Finish
Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, president of
this year's UN climate conference, is giving envoys a deadline
of 6 p.m. local time tomorrow to come up with an agreement. The
UN aims for this year's pact to set up a more comprehensive one
at the next full meeting of ministers a year from now in Durban,
"What is required now is proof of our collective political
will, not more time for discussions," she said in a statement.
"We need to send a clear sign of our desire to meet this global
challenge. We must set the stage for further significant steps
in Durban and beyond."
For Related News and Information:
Emission trading stories: TNI ENVMARKET CLIMATE <GO>
Top environment and renewable energy stories: GREEN <GO>
Stories about the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
--With additional assistance from Carlos Manuel Rodriguez,
Mathew Carr and Alex Morales in Cancun. Editors: Reed Landberg,
John Viljoen, Peter Langan.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Kim Chipman in Cancun, Mexico at +1-202-624-1927 or
Jim Efstathiou Jr. in Cancun at +1-212-617-1647 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or