October 11, 2010

UN Climate Agreement Inches Forward

Despite the two main green house gas emitting countries maintaining their intransient and opposing positions, the UN talks at Tianjin in China, in the first week of October, appear to have moved the rest of the world closer to an international agreement which could be discussed at the Cancun Climate Summit in Mexico this December.

While the US asserting that China is going back on agreements from the last Summit in Copenhagen – particularly the details on an appropriate methodology for measuring and reporting emissions reductions – the host country claimed that the US “has taken no tangible steps or actions” on its own emissions reductions or by funding or providing technology to developing world countries to mitigate emissions.  While China now produces overall more green house gas emissions than the US, its’ emissions per person are much lower.

Last week, many of the countries signed up to the Kyoto protocol, including Europe expressed their readiness to sign up to a future protocol, when the Kyoto agreement comes to the end of its term in 2012.   The NGO and business sector are concerned that a follow on protocol is agreed and implemented, not least in order to continue encouraging investment into renewable energies, low carbon technologies and the promising emergent forest carbon markets.

With the global carbon market standing at US$2.7 billion, most governments, business and environmentalists want to avoid a gulf of political will and financial investment which could be creates by a gap in an agreed international framework for addressing climate change.

The lack of common ground between China and the US aside, there are at least two other main issues:  the commitment of the developed world to reduce emissions as well as fund mitigation; and how to bind developing world countries – who account for 50% of present (though clearly not historic) global emissions – to a legally binding emissions reduction programme.   China and the developing world are keen for Europe, Japan and the USA to commit to a more radical programme of emissions reduction to allow them room to grow their economies which will inevitable involve generating greater emissions.

The arguments are complex while interests and agendas are disparate, but the ground is now set for the next UN Climate Summit at the end of the year in Mexico.


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