Conflict between US and China on global climate change

Developed countries such as the US and EU countries after having polluted for decades are now refusing to sign on to further reductions without developing countries also making considerable commitments. The refusal to sign on to Kyoto was a defining characteristic of the Bush regime but now Obama the Green also refuses to sign on to a Kyoto protocol citing their great green credentials compared to bad polluting Bush. Perhaps some compromise may be worked out but the result could be some nice sounding rhetoric with no teeth. I guess that could be called Kyoto 2.

The US threatened to derail a deal on global climate change today in apublic showdown with China by expressing deep opposition to theexisting Kyoto protocol. The US team also urged other rich countriesto join it in setting up a new legal agreement which would, unlikeKyoto, force all countries to reduce emissions.In a further development, the EU sided strongly with the US in seekinga new agreement, but said that it hoped the best elements of Kyotocould be kept. China and many developing countries immediately hitback stating that the protocol, the world's only legally bindingcommitment to get countries to reduce emissions, was "not negotiable".With only a few days of formal UN negotiations remaining before thecrunch Copenhagen meeting in December, and the world's two largestemitters refusing to give ground, a third way may now have to be foundto secure a climate change agreement. Last night it emerged thatlawyers for the EU are in talks with the US delegation urgentlyseeking a way out of the impasse that now threatens a strong climatedeal.In a day of high international rhetoric, chief US negotiator JonathanPershing said the US had moved significantly in the last year. "Therehas been a startling change in the US position. There is nowengagement. We have had a 10-fold increase finance from the US. Wehave put $80bn into a green economic stimulus package. One year agothere was no commitment to a global agreement."But he forcefully outlined America's opposition to the Kyoto protocol."We are not going to be in the Kyoto protocol. We are not going to bepart of an agreement that we cannot meet. We say a new agreement hasto [be signed] by all countries. Things have changed since Kyoto.Where countries were in 1990 and today is very different. We cannot bestuck with an agreement 20 years old. We want action from allcountries."Yu Qingtai, China's special representative on climate talks, said richcountries should not desert the Kyoto agreement, which allindustrialised countries except the US signed up to and was ratifiedin 2002 after many years of negotiations. It contains no requirementfor developing countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, as boththeir current and historical emissions are low in most cases. However,China, with its surging economy and rapidly expanding population isnow the world's biggest polluter."The Kyoto protocol is not negotiable. We want [it] to bestrengthened. We don't want to kill Kyoto. We really want a revival, astrengthening of the treaty. That can only be done by Annex I[industrialised] countries having a target of 40% cuts by 2020," saidYu."We have an agreement. If you take that away [you remove] the basis ofnegotiations. There are specific provisions for parties [like the US]who are not signed up to the Kyoto protocol."China was backed strongly by the G77 group of 130 countries and theAlliance of Small Island States (Aosis), made up of Caribbean andPacific countries which expect to be made uninhabitable in the nextfew generations if a strong climate agreement is not secured."We face an emergency. We want commitments. We did not create theproblem. Any mechanism currently in use is one we want to maintain.National actions are important but they are no substitutes for aninternational framework," said Dessima Williams, a Grenadianspokeswoman for Aosis.The EU, today sided openly with the US for the first time. "We look atthe Kyoto protocol, but since it came into force we have seenemissions increase. It has not decreased emissions. It's not enoughand we need more," said spokesman Karl Falkenberg."We are very unlikely to see the US join Kyoto, but we are workingwith the US to find a legal framework to allow the US to participateand which will allow large emitters [such as China] to participate."The difference between the sides is now considered to threaten thesuccess of the talks. In essence, the US is insisting on a completelynew agreement, with all countries signed up and all countries free tochoose and set their own targets and timetable. Most other countrieswant to keep the existing agreement as a basis for negotiations, toensure that rich countries are held by international law to agreedcuts. China in particular wants cuts calculated on a per capita basis.Diplomats last night suggested that the only way out could be for theUS to be asked to sign a separate agreement acceptable to developingcountries, which would see it cutting emissions at a comparable speedto other countries.The G77 countries are meeting to consider their oppositions. Onediplomat said: "They are very angry. People have talked of walkingout."However, lawyers said it would be difficult to terminate the Kyotoprotocol because all parties have to formally agree by consensus toend it. In addition, if no further commitment periods after 2012 areestablished for rich countries, it would be a breach of their ownlegal agreements.___________________________________


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